My educational philosophy is a combination of how I desire to teach and my motivation to be a lifelong learner. As a teacher at the Army Management Staff College, I am constantly learning during classroom and student interaction. Therefore, I am also a student. According to the Center for Educational Innovation at the University of Minnesota (2014):
A teaching philosophy is a self-reflective statement of your
beliefs about teaching and learning. In addition to general
comments, your teaching philosophy should discuss how you
put your beliefs into practice by including concrete examples
of what you do or anticipate doing in the classroom.
My purpose for developing an educational philosophy is to reflect on and improve my classroom interaction and overall effectiveness. Through the development of this philosophy, I identified four critical areas that are paramount to classroom success:
1. Adult Learning Environment
As a facilitator or teacher, I am responsible for establishing a successful adult learning environment, one that values and enables learning for both students and teacher. I thoroughly believe that students are responsible for their own learning because the greatest learning occurs when adults:
- Take responsibility for determining what they learn
- Learn what is personally beneficial
- Learn what they discover for themselves
- Learn from both experience and feedback instead of just experience alone (Adjunct Faculty Guide, 2012)
The classroom climate must be safe, professional, and collaborative, allowing students to feel at ease to express their views, share experiences, and discuss differences of opinion. I must also facilitate effectively to integrate student experiences into our discussions and use those examples to illustrate relevant teaching points. It is important that I create and preserve a complex, rigorous, and realistic classroom climate that is both student- and problem-centric, while ensuring that I provide enough tools and information to solve a problem, but not give the answer. Furthermore, my personal contribution to sustaining a learning environment includes motivation (be prepared to spend extra time), aptitude (know the material), presentation (organized and enough variety), repetition (multiple emphasis of relevant points), and reinforcement (realistic practical exercises) (CNC Concepts, 2014). Last, honest feedback is critical to maintaining an effective and realistic adult learning environment, as well as helping students see themselves and achieve “personal movement” (K. Summers, personal communication, 2015).
I must be prepared to adopt multiple roles in the classroom (facilitator, teacher, instructor, coach, consultant, counselor, and mentor). I need to be prepared to seamlessly transition between these roles to effectively contribute to student learning:
- Facilitator (Primary): Helper in discovery process
- Teacher: Provider of information
- Instructor: Demonstrator of a skill
- Coach: Guider of learning
- Consultant: Helper in problem solving
- Counselor: Helper in life situations and feelings
- Mentor: Provider of guidance focused on professional or personal growth (LEAD Facilitator, 1999; ADRP 6-22, 2012)
For my primary role as a facilitator, flexibility also includes the ability to diagnose and intervene when necessary to enhance learning and support individual and group growth. Additional areas of flexibility include technical assistance, course management, and student administration when required.
Authenticity is extremely important for me as a teacher. Being genuine and modeling trust can significantly help establish a successful learning environment and maintain a collaborative climate in the classroom. Authenticity includes the following:
- Admit when I don’t know something
- Remain calm at all times and model kindness and patience
- Follow through with consequences
- Smile often, laugh with students, and sit with students
- Offer options, but give students a chance to problem solve on their own (Alber, 2011)
Additionally, my life priorities are faith, family, and Army, with emphasis on competence, caring, and balance. Therefore, I can further achieve authenticity by “being myself” in the classroom and “modeling personal and Army values.”
In order to establish and maintain competence as a facilitator, I must be skillful in the execution of both content (what a group is working on) and process (how a group works together) (Schwarz, 2002). First, I have to completely understand the lesson material so that I don’t require notes and I am conversational on relevant content and process topics. Second, I must know how to diagnose student and group behaviors and recognize when and how to intervene. And third, I must be able to use my prior experiences as an instructor and Army organizational leader to reinforce, but not dominate, classroom discussions. We desire our students to achieve “movement” while attending our course (Summers, 2015). As a facilitator, I also desire to achieve movement though self-study, classroom experience, and training/certifications. Additionally, I can increase and maintain competence as a facilitator by consistently asking for feedback from peers, students, and superiors; focusing on faculty development; leveraging the expertise of peer faculty; and being a team player in our organization.
Lieutenant Colonel Eric T. Moore, US Army, retired, is an instructor, writer, and facilitator for the Civilian Education System (CES) Advanced Course, Army Management Staff College (AMSC) at Fort Leavenworth, KS.
Adjunct Faculty Guide for Faculty Development Phase I (FDP1) Tutorials and Practicums (2012), U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, KS, 9.
Alber, Rebecca (2011). 20 Tips for Creating a Safe Learning Environment, edutopia. Retrieved from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/20-tips-create-safe-learning-environment-rebecca-alber
Center for Educational Innovation (2014). Writing a Teaching Philosophy, Retrieved from http://cei.umn.edu/support-services/tutorials/writing-teaching-philosophy
Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Concepts, Inc. (2007). Five Factors That Contribute to a Good Learning Environment. Retrieved from http://www.cncci.com/products/five%20factors.htm
Leadership, Education and Development (LEAD) Facilitator Preparation Workbook, (1999) and Army Doctrine Reference Publication (ADRP) 6-22 Army Leadership, Headquarters, Department of the Army (2012), 7-11.
Schwarz, R (2002). The Skilled Facilitator, A Comprehensive Resource for Consultants, Facilitators, Managers, Trainers, and Coaches, New and Revised, page 5.
Summers, K. (2015). Concept of “personal movement” presented during Army Management Staff College Director Welcome.