Revising my Teaching Philosophy: Part 2

This is part two on my rearticulation of my philosophy of teaching.  I will address the final four nodes of my revised “philosophy.”  Afterwards, I will close with some considerations on the appropriateness of such values in an EFL classroom.

A goal orientation.  I used to have many enjoyable, perhaps somewhat inane philosophical discussions with a colleague during my 2 years in Peace Corps.   His views on education, especially elementary and secondary where as follows, I paraphrase: “When you leave high school you should be able to read, have basic discipline, and be capable of setting goals.”  I can concur with the sentiment, especially the last plank of his position.  I feel goals really are a launching pad to meaningful development.  Goals provide implicit criteria to evaluate behavior.  It promotes metacognitive thinking: “does this action push me closer or farther away from my goal?”  Without clear goals, I feel individuals have little choice but to go with the flow, sometimes that can be of great benefit, sometimes not.

A growth orientation.  This is very interrelated with the prior point.  I want students to have a hunger for growth as an individual, also as a productive member of society.  I want them to embrace challenges, instead of shirking them (see anti-douchism!).  Embracing challenges ensures growth, simply via engaging in the process, however, it takes time and commitment to develop such an attitude towards life.

Assertiveness.  I want students to know what they want in life, to be able to state such desires in positive language, and be able to articulate their views/beliefs/desires to others, most especially during moments of tension.  Assertiveness can help prevent engaging in less than productive behaviors.    Assertiveness implies previously defined goals and/or values. 

Cultivate a wellness orientation.  Perhaps this shouldn’t be considered for a non-health teacher.  However, I think such a disposition is at the core of cultivating a meaningful and happy life.  Seiger, et al.  (1998), list the following six components of a “wellness and healthy lifestyle:”  physical, emotional, intellectual, social, spiritual, and vocational.  I strongly agree with the authors’s selections. 

These four tenets can aid in the acquisition of a foreign language.  Goal setting—thorough establishing specific areas to focus on as it pertains to language skills development—can certainly promote foreign language learning and acquisition.  A growth orientation should give a student the strength to manage the many challenges and frustrations which acquiring a FL entails.  Assertiveness may be less explicitly applicable, however, if a student is going to acquire a FL it will take a degree of self-study and commitment.  That means the ability to manage one’s time well.  Effective time management entails occasionally telling members of one’s peer group: “no, I have another appointment;” or whatever the reasoning may be.  Finally, a wellness orientation will provide the base, if nothing else the physiological base, to promote more enhanced learning and skill acquisition.

Thus in conclusion, I do feel my teaching values align well with effective language learning/acquisition.  Nevertheless, values, while—well valuable, are often too abstract to be of much use.  Greater precision and consideration of specific environments and objectives are necessary.  Thus, I hope to extend on this monologue next week by considering how well my current teaching context, both in terms of the institution I work at and the teaching materials (i.e. textbook) I use, aligns with my personal value systems.  Do any of the readers out there feel any tension between your teaching context and personal/teaching values?

Until later,



Seiger, L., Kanipe, D., Vanderpool, K., & Barnes, D. (1998).  Fitness and Wellness Strategies (2nd edition).  New York:  McGraw-Hill.


About cmiller112

Teacher, Father, Jogger, Sleeper, Husband, (add extra label here)
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2 Responses to Revising my Teaching Philosophy: Part 2

  1. A very interesting post. I wonder why you feel your personal values are not as important as the teaching environment? My other question is, have you thought about asking your students about their learning philosophy and goals? Sometimes the best feedback comes from students and sometimes that is also where the tension resides (either with the teacher or the institution).

    • cmiller112 says:

      hanks for the feedback, you asked some very relevant questions. For the first one, what I think I was trying to say was that institutional norms/teaching environment will have a greater influence on student attitudes than just a lone teacher. For instance, in my experience, in “lower achieving schools,” if the majority of teachers display apathy, the institution communicates that academic success isn’t expected (through giving more emphasis on school festivals, et al…this is a longer story I would need more space to elaborate on), and the majority of students display behaviors indicative of apathy, a lone teacher’s attitude will have limited influence…

      As to the second question, I did just administer an end of semester survey. I wish I would have been in the habit of doing so previously, and hope to do two per semester in the future. I hope (time permitting) to write a blog post on the survey and get peer feedback on a few aspects of it…anyways I didn’t ask much about goals and philosophy aspects, that is something that I will consider implementing in the future…Thanks!

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