Throughout my time here at Post as a student, I almost feel like I’ve been thrown into the deep end, and it’s time to learn to swim, or sink like a stone. This isn’t, of course, an entirely accurate description–my professors and my academic success counselor have been wonderful at hand-holding–but every time we get into a new unit and I have to learn how to do something else, I worry that I’m in over my head. And then, obviously, I do the thing and move on to the next thing. This is, at it’s core, Post University’s modus operandi–learn by doing.
And I have fallen over A LOT. My final submitted work doesn’t show it, but my husband can attest to the crying and the yelling and the freaking out and anxiety attacks that usually accompany a new assignment that I have absolutely no idea how to finish.
This past week, we had to work on writing our personal educational philosophy. What’s a personal educational philosophy, you ask? I had no fracking clue. It’s a thing that I know all of my teacher friends have, and when I asked them, their explanation was simple–“it’s, you know…a statement explaining your philosophy on teaching.” OH. Great. Because THAT’S helpful and clear.
Right. So I did what I always do–wing it. Through writing it, though, I found that a lot of what I needed to say was common sense. When you’re a teacher, what do you want your students to learn? Why do you teach what you teach? What’s your role? These are all questions my instructor wanted us to focus on. I….had never thought about it in that way. Certainly nobody had ever explained it that way. And so I asked myself questions–LOTS of questions. Why did I fight so hard to become an instructor here? Why did I fight so hard to get my M.A. in history? What was the point of that? What do I want my students to know? I asked myself all those questions, as though I was interviewing an instructor about why they became a teacher–because, at the end of the day, that’s what an educational philosophy is. It’s the reason why we get up every morning and try to teach students skills. Every day, I log into my classes, and I look at what my students have done. Some days–most days–I wonder why I bother (they don’t listen when I give them feedback, they don’t like the feedback I’m giving them, they’re not improving, why am I doing this).
But then, there’s that moment. That moment when a student–your student–gets it. Where they make that connection, where they think critically, where they hit an analysis of a historical document on the head. That moment when they get it, and you realize that it was all worth it. Because at least this one student has learned something. You’ve made a difference in one student’s life, and you’ve done it without compromising the content. They’ve learned how to do a thing–THAT’S why I do this.
And just like that, I had my educational philosophy. And when I did, I’m pretty sure Steve (my own instructor) had that moment too.