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My Philosophy as a Special Education Teacher

Paisley Perez

Chandler-Gilbert Community College

My Philosophy as a Special Education Teacher


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Adolescence is a unique adventure for everyone. Ultimately we can analyze our

experiences and ask, which mentors impacted us the best? Teenagers have many expectations for

themselves. Some can be internal and others are externally influenced, depending on the

message. Given, this could either build their character or deplete their self-esteem. I believe that

learning through communication is human nature, and that all minds are beautifully unique and

bring a new perspective to a banquet of ideas. This can help students reach a higher level of

cooperation and acceptance. I have chosen to utilize these beliefs through my career in Special

Education in a Junior High School setting. My philosophy will debrief how I will contemplate,

accommodate, and differentiate my teaching style. I will teach good citizenship by exploring and

bringing to light the strengths of my students. I will also help my students realize how to utilize

information they learn by relating it to their own experiences and collaborating alongside their

peers.

Research by Howard Gardner, a psychologist and neuroscientist, expresses that children

are not born with fixed intelligence, but rather multiple intelligences that present themselves

more varyingly, depending on the person(Koch, 2015). As a teacher, I will try and utilize all the

learning styles in my classroom so students can experience the lesson from different points of

view. It is important that I switch up my lessons as I observe my students to see if they are

understanding their learning goals, brainstorming, and corresponding ideas and solutions with

their peers. To accomplish this, each day I will be a reflective practitioner. Therefore, I will be

happy to make accommodations and changes to my lessons and classroom where needed. Since I

will be working with special education, I want to make sure my students have the least restrictive
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environment possible. I will advocate for them to build their own knowledge through creative

work in an inclusive environment, with support where needed.

Rather than being a dominating presence in my classroom, I want to be a guide during

their learning, and help my students accomplish their goals. I will practice classroom community

rather than classroom management. This is so that my classroom can function as a whole team

that is responsible and demonstrates interest in the outcomes.(Koch, 2015) Although we live in a

society that celebrates the educational philosophy of essentialism, I believe in the progressivism

ideals of John Dewey in which he “...thought that schools should help children learn how to live

and work cooperatively with others.”(Koch, 2015, p.43) For my students in special education,

some of them may need emotional and behavioral support. My classroom will be a place where

they are given tools to communicate, and where they can share their feelings in an expected and

helpful way. Learning how to be a good citizen is just as impactful as mastering their core

studies. Good citizenship should include accepting and celebrating our diversity. I recognize that

my students will come from differing cultural and socioeconomic backgrounds. Thusly, I will

demonstrate a hidden curriculum in my classroom of respect, generosity, and gratitude. Strengths

and interests will be celebrated in the classroom. I would advocate for a type of show-and-tell

where the students can form bonds by learning about one another’s experiences, families, and

interests.

I have learned that not only are there several teaching philosophies, but their are also

cognitive learning theories. The learning theory I align myself with is John Dewey’s

constructivism. “The constructivist approach builds on cognitive and social cognitive theories
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but goes further by considering how new information becomes meaningful to the learner.”(Koch,

2015, p. 61) I believe that student-centered learning is the most productive since each of my

students will have very different needs and be at different levels of understanding. I will use

observational skills and informal assessments to accommodate my students. I will arrange desks

in a group format to encourage group learning and comradery. I will provide lessons that are

problem-based to fortify social skills and conversable learning. I will also utilize project-based

learning so that students can relate the new material to their previous knowledge and build off of

that. I will have lessons that will include creativity and/or technology for students’ opportunity to

design, construct or play. When watching my students interact, I will inspirit those who work

fairly and kindly using PBIS, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports. Responsible and

thoughtful behavior can lead to privileges, free-time or board game days. Students will be given

positions in the classroom such as door opener or pencil collector. I hope to instill a sense of

classroom community through designing a sense of citizenship within the classroom. As

mentioned earlier, my expectations for respect, generosity, and gratitude toward their fellow

classmates will remain a major part of the hidden curriculum through these lessons.

Teachers have so much to consider when it comes to the well-being of a student, much

less an entire classroom. The best teachers are willing to accommodate students and make

changes to their lesson plans in order to benefit their differing classes. I will be a reflective

practitioner and be flexible with my lesson plans as students’ needs change. I will most

importantly implement a classroom community of citizenship, and appreciation of diversity.

Lastly, I will have a classroom that utilizes arts and/or technology as a tool for social cognitive

learning. Students should feel safe in my classroom and know that their differences are really
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their strengths waiting to be discovered. My students accomplishments will be celebrated, and

the things they love and are proud of will be hung all around the classroom. I will make lessons

meaningful for my students by allowing collaborative work, exercising creativity, and utilizing

technology. Ultimately, I will always make a point to encourage the wonderful attributions of my

students and help them stay determined and motivated throughout the perplexities of

adolescence.

Works Cited

Koch, J. (2015). TEACH (3rd ed.). Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.