(image from triadcitybeat.com)
I believe that a person needs to be a lifelong learner. I understand that this sounds cliche and is often stated by potential teachers partaking in an interview. However, I believe that the statement by itself is not fully understood. When a deeper look into the meaning of the phrase is taken, one can begin to understand what it means to be an actual, lifelong learner. If a learner, at any point in their learning process, sets an end time on their learning they will struggle to ever learn anything more beyond that point. They will resist further learning and limit their potential success. A lifelong learner, however, looks forward to continuing their learning throughout their life. There is no limit to their learning. So when new opportunities to learn are presented a lifelong learner will take advantage of those opportunities to continue their learning.
(image from eztalks.com)
The relationship between teaching and learning is complex. Just like any relationship, this particular relationship will need to manipulate the ebbs and flows that go along with working together. When students are younger, the teacher needs to take a more active role in teaching required skills that lay the foundation of the students’ understanding (i.e. reading, writing). However, as learners grow, the role of the teacher shifts. It is my job as a teacher to be a learning facilitator who focuses on the learners and the classroom environment instead of lecturing information (Harapnuik, 2009). Learners do not often learn best through lecture. Lecturing does not ensure that any connections are being made in order to establish meaningful, lifelong learning. Learners need to be engaged and active in the presentation of information. Of course, there will be moments where struggling learners will require assistance, and perhaps some sort of direct, guided assistance. As a special education teacher, my job entails directly working with learners who are struggling in order to help them learn in their area of need rather than overwhelming them with larger concepts. I work with those learners and encourage them to offer perspective on how they learn best, and then I incorporate their uniqueness and passions into the delivery of the information. This is important because it provides the learners with an opportunity to take an active role, make a connection, apply what they have learned, and formulate a memory. These memories of experiences can be recalled time and time again throughout their roles as lifelong learners.
I have always enjoyed learning. I like to learn new things or pieces of information and see how they can intertwine themselves into my life, both personally and professionally. Sometimes the information is as simple as learning a new slang word from my students to incorporate into our daily repertoire, or something more in depth like how to improve myself as a teacher. This is why I value the idea of lifelong learners. As long as I can find a way to incorporate and practice the information that I am learning into my life I am engaged and invested. While I enjoy learning, I am not always able to learn in every type of environment. Reading for information, writing to demonstrate knowledge, conversing to share ideas and experimenting with creative ideas are ways that I have been able to learn best. However, I have found that listening to lectures is difficult for me. Even if the information is relevant to me it is still difficult because I am not as engaged as I would be if I were participating in the distribution of the information and learning at the same time. Relevance is important to my learning, but engagement and interaction are just as important.
A learning philosophy and a teaching philosophy can differ. A teaching philosophy has teachers evaluate how they organize their classrooms, how they deliver their instruction, and how they assess knowledge. A learning philosophy has teachers reflect on areas where they may be limiting their teaching as well as how their students are able to learn best. For me, I take my learning philosophy and apply it to how I teach. I am most successful with learning when I am interested and passionate about the information being presented. I want to be captivated and engaged. Within my classroom environment, I focus on identifying my students’ passions and interests and incorporating those into the delivery of information. Continuing to reflect on my teaching and learning philosophies will allow me to determine if my students are learning through the best means possible, not just what works for me. Likewise, providing students with the opportunities to explore their personal learning philosophies will continue to encourage the practice of becoming lifelong learners.
After thinking about and researching my learning philosophy, I have learned that I connect to the Constructivist Theory by Jerome Bruner. He states that “learning is creating meaning from experience” and teachers should “[work] to help build settings in which conversation [and] participation can occur” (Smith, 2018). Bruner believes that learners should take an active role in their learning, similar to how I feel about my own learning. Being engaged and interested while learning will work to improve the learning experience. But, being involved in the delivery of the information will make the learning meaningful and relevant. Also, the Constructivist Theory explains that learners will be active in the process when they construct ideas and make decisions about their learning. Communicating this information between learner and teacher will allow for active and meaningful dialogue and assist in driving the experience. This is how I have learned best as well. The best teachers that I have had and where I have learned the most, are the teachers who were interested in me. I was able to have conversations with my teachers about the information being presented in the classroom, but I was also able to engage with them about information, work, or events occurring outside of the classroom. These relationships that I was able to form between the teacher and myself (the learner) allowed me to feel comfortable asking for assistance, as well as providing feedback about successes and failures. As a special education teacher, it is very important to me, as well as to my students’ success, that my students’ become self-advocates for their needs and maintain those advocacy skills throughout their lives. Building a rapport amongst us will allow my students to learn to the best of their abilities.
My current innovation plan is to implement ePortfolios into my classroom. My learning philosophy impacts my plan because I am implementing these ePortfolios in order for my students to show and reflect on their work, both in and outside of the classroom. More importantly though, the ePortfolios will allow students to reflect on their learning and nurture an approach that will enable them to become lifelong learners. The students will engage in the creation of their ePortfolios and they will collaborate with me as well as their peers throughout this process, asking for and receiving feedback. A teacher’s role is to facilitate learning, and within this innovation plan I will be doing just that. The students will be in charge of the design and presentation, the content they will share, and the time which they will devote to it. My learning and teaching philosophies, as well as my role as an agent of change, will aide students in growing and developing as learners by making them active partners. The growth and development of the students and of their ePortfolios will not occur immediately or even in a single school year. Developing and reflecting on their work as well as the work of their peers will promote lifelong learning.
(image from fotolia.com)
BlueSofaMedia. (2012, December 30). Use a learning theory: Constructivism [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Xa59prZC5gA
This YouTube video is a short video that describes the importance of Constructivism.
Culatta, R. (Ed.). (2018, November 30). Constructivist theory. Retrieved December 1, 2018, from http://www.instructionaldesign.org/theories/constructivist.html
This is a review of Jerome Bruner’s Constructivist Theory. Bruner’s theory explains how learning is an active process where the learner constructs new ideas based on their current and prior knowledge. Bruner explains that the teacher and learner converse with one another regarding information being learned and how it is being learned.
Harapnuik, D. (2009, September 18). Learning philosophy [Blog post]. Retrieved from It’s about learning website: http://www.harapnuik.org/?page_id=95
This blog post written by Lamar University professor, Dr. Harapnuik, clarified the difference between a teacher and a learning facilitator.
Learning. [Photograph]. (2018, January 25). Retrieved from https://triad-city-beat.com/the-weekender-4/
Never stop learning. [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.fotolia.com/id/129631781
Smith, M. K. (2018). What is learning? Exploring theory, product and process. The Encyclopedia of Informal Education. Retrieved from: http://infed.org/mobi/learning-theory-models-product-and-process/
This article discussed key ideas about what learning is, specifically if it is a change in behavior or understanding, and if it is a process.
Teach learn. [Photograph]. (2018, August 14). Retrieved from https://www.businessdayonline.com/uncategorized/article/effective-teaching-learning-round-development/
Types of learning. [Photograph]. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.eztalks.com/online-education/what-is-collaborative-learning.html
Weimer, M. (2014, March 26). What’s your learning philosophy? Retrieved from Faculty focus website: http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/whats-learning-philosophy/
This source helped me to initiate my thought process on how to determine my learning philosophy. It suggests some key questions and concepts that should be considered during this process. This same information can be used for students determining their learning philosophies.