Theoretical Underpinnings of my Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy draws upon the theories of constructivism, particularly social constructivism, which was developed by Lev Vygotsky. With regard to the constructivism learning theory, the role of the learner is mainly to assimilate information presented by the teacher. In this regard, the learner is perceived as an active maker of meanings, and the teacher engages in dialogue with the learner and makes sure that the meaning that the learner has created in their mind corresponds to that of the teacher (Vygotsky, 1978). This theory proposes the need for joint efforts between the teacher and the learner in constructing new meanings. Social constructivism places emphasis on how understandings and meanings are constructed through social encounters. Other facets of the constructivist theory are as follows: self-discovery is an essential part of learning; students have to make decisions based on their sense of identity and individual values; knowledge is viewed as the means to an end rather than the end itself; knowledge is based on the learner’s mental construct of a given concept that they interpret themselves; and truth is relative.
Conceptualization of Teaching
According to my teaching philosophy, instructors should play the role of a facilitator rather than a teacher. A teacher focuses on giving a didactic lecture that addresses the topical matter, whereas a facilitator helps the student to get their own understanding of the subject matter. When an instructor plays the role of a teacher, the learner tends to be passive; however, when the instructor acts as a facilitator, the learner is active in the learning. Therefore, teaching is learner-centered and not instructor-centered (Vygotsky, 1978). During teaching, a facilitator asks questions, provides support, gives guidelines, and forms an environment where the learner can derive their own conclusions. This is contrary to the role of a teacher, which is to give a lecture and provide answers based on the set curriculum.
Furthermore, teaching takes into consideration the fact that learners need more time to construct a concept; therefore, better retention of knowledge requires instructors to teach fewer topics at a time. In addition, I conceptualize effective teaching as the one that involves hands-on activities, wherein learning by doing is the teaching mode. Instructors should also design assignments and activities to facilitate problem solving and act as a facilitator by providing support during the start of the learning and gradually reducing the support when learners begin assuming responsibility and increase their ability and competence (Taber, 2011).
Conceptualization of Learning
According to my teaching philosophy, learning should be innovative, creative, and self-directed. I believe that the main goal of education is to ensure that the learner becomes innovate and creative through synthesis, conceptualizations, and analysis of previous experiences in order to develop new knowledge. The fundamental assertion is that learners make use of previous and current experiences to develop knowledge. In this regard, education is life itself and not just a preparation for it. In addition, I believe that the learner has a greater responsibility for learning when compared to teachers; this is because the theoretical underpinning of my teaching philosophy (social constructivism) places emphasis on the significance of the learner playing an active role in the learning process (Taber, 2011).
As an educator, I play a passive role. My role could entail just observing, while the student directs the learning process. In this regard, learners are supposed to work as a team and participate in the learning process, although this should not happen in a competitive manner. In addition, the motivation for learning on the part of the student is essential for the learning process to be successful. Motivation for learning is determined by the level of the learner’s confidence with regard to their potential for leaning. Learners need to feel and believe that they are competent in solving new problems. After completing challenging exercises, learners can develop the motivation and confidence needed to complete more challenging tasks.
I also perceive learning as an active and social process in the sense that learning should enable students to discover new facts, concepts, and principles on their own. As a result, intuitive thinking and guesswork are highly encouraged in the learning process. By perceiving learning as a social process, I believe that it encourages students to share their individual points of view. This leads to the fact that learners understand something together, which would not be possible if learning took place at individual level (Taber, 2011).
It is imperative that the design of the learning environment should both challenge and encourage learner thinking. The main goal of the learning process is to ensure that the learner develops into an effective thinker.
Goals for my Students
1. I expect my learners to demonstrate critical thinking
Critical thinking enables learners to be actively involved in the learning process. Learners who think critically are likely to pose questions when the information presented to them does not concur with their understanding.
2. I expect my students to be able to apply the knowledge acquired in the classroom in the real world context
Learners having a deep understanding of the subject matter are able to address real world problems in specific scenarios.
3. Students should demonstrate innovation, creativity, and self-discovery
Creativity and innovation will help learners devise original ways to solve problems. Active learning requires learners to pose thought-provoking questions.
4. Students should demonstrate confidence during the learning process
Confident learners have to be willing to take part in classroom activities and offer new ideas even when they are unsure.
Implementation of my Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophies draw upon the constructivist theory, which is based on the view that learning is effective by deploying a hands-on approach. In this regard, I expect my students to learn through experimentation, draw their own conclusions, and make discoveries and inferences. Fundamentally, I believe in constructivist teaching in the sense that learning is only effective when students play an active role in constructing knowledge and meaning rather than just receiving information passively. The following are the features of a classroom/teaching environment:
- Active involvement of learners;
- A democratic learning environment;
- Interactive activities that are student-centered;
- The instructor facilitates the learning process and encourages learners to be autonomous and responsible.
- Students work in groups and knowledge and learning are dynamic and interactive;
- Focus on the communication and social skills of learners including exchange of ideas and team work
- Classroom activities such as experimentation, research projects, field trips, and discussions among learners
- The main roles of facilitators include modeling, coaching, and scaffolding;
Personal Growth Plan as a Nurse Educator
As a nurse educator, I intend to transform my passion for teaching and clinical expertise into a successful career. Nurse educators working in the classroom and in the clinical practice setting have the responsibility of mentoring and preparing future and current nurses. It is undeniable that nurse educators play a significant role in strengthening the nursing workforce and offering the leadership required in applying evidence-based practice. In addition, nurse educators play an imperative role in the design, implementation, evaluation, and revision of nursing education programs. The following is my personal growth plan:
- Graduate from university
- Practice in clinical settings while preparing for the role of a nurse educator