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HELLO!

My name is Isabel Forward and I am an aspiring secondary English teacher with current certification in Pennsylvania. For the 2020-2021 school year, I will be serving as an English Teaching Assistant in Norway as a part of the United States Fulbright Student Program. Upon my return, I will attend law school to pursue a career in education policy reform.

MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

My teaching is grounded in my understanding of student-teacher relationships and narrative construction as tools of empowerment in the classroom and as global citizens. By fostering a safe and comfortable learning environment, employing teaching methods catered towards diverse learners, and implementing a curriculum designed to shape global citizens with strong critical thinking skills, my teaching gives students the tools they need to write effectively, engage in dialogue, and develop cross-cultural relationships. 

One of the most important aspects of my philosophy begins with the atmosphere of the classroom. School requires students to showcase weakness constantly, as the admission of mistakes—and the willingness to make them—serves as the basis of learning. For this reason, I prioritize fostering an environment where students feel comfortable to be wrong, and space where they feel comfortable questioning truths that may seem concrete. This begins with creating relationships with students and facilitating relationships between one another. These relationships play a critical part in establishing the classroom as a safe learning space, and in supporting the development of the whole person. 

In terms of instructional methods, I set high expectations for all students. This standard also requires me, as their instructor, to make sure I give them the tools to fulfill these expectations. I create alternative and differentiated assessments in order to most accurately gauge the learning of a diverse range of learners. I give students the opportunity to learn, make mistakes, and take risks in their writing with lower-stakes assessments. For higher-stakes assessments, I work with students to create rubrics. In this process, they clearly understand my expectations and I understand what criteria are fair based on what we have learned. I use both forms of these assessments to inform my future instruction. 

I believe in the development of a curriculum that includes global perspectives, varying authorial voices, and differing opinions. In choosing works that challenge dominant narratives, I invite students to expand their thinking beyond simple answers—and to understand that most truths are multifaceted, arguable, and complicated. My course material and the conversations I facilitate foster a greater sense of empathy and compassion among students, within and across diverse communities. 

Paulo Freire writes, “Education either functions as an instrument which is used to facilitate the integration of the younger generation into the logic of the present system and bring about conformity or it becomes the practice of freedom, the means by which men and women deal critically and creatively with reality and discover how to participate in the transformation of their world” (Freire 2014). The relationships I foster in my classroom helps students recognize that they are capable of this liberation. My teaching methods give students the tools to use their voices as a means to self-discovery, to self-advocacy, and to fostering a greater sense of empathy and connection with others—namely, to “participate in the transformation of their world.”

 

Sources:

Freire, P. (2000). Pedagogy of the Oppressed (30th Anniversary ed.). New York: Continuum.

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