Formulating Your Educational Philosophy

I can’t remember if it happened after I left New York City or later. Perhaps it was when I landed back in my City by the Bay, with the lyrics to “Empire State of Mind” still fresh in my head, ready to take on the world as an entrepreneur and dance educator. Maybe it was after I completed my Master of Arts degree in Curriculum and Instruction, eager to shape the minds of the next generation. Somewhere in those couple of years, I decided that one of the most important things to develop before beginning to teach anything to anyone was my philosophy of education. (In fact, now that I’m thinking about it, I may have spent a few weeks iterating this philosophy during my year as a graduate student and teaching resident . . . .)

It made sense to me that before presenting myself to the world as a fancy educator, I should know what I stood for and for what I did not stand. While I now have a little short and sweet philosophy typed up on my teacher website (which I haven’t worked to maintain in a few years now–sorry, not sorry! I’ve been building other things in this world!), I think I used to have a super deep, lengthy few paragraphs posted.

However, after successfully teaching, recruiting teachers, and training teachers for the past decade or so, I’m now completely satisfied with the conviction that a teaching philosophy is an ever-evolving construct. It may sound cliché, but it is true: In my years of working as an educator, I have been so transformed by the students with whom I have worked that it would be impossible for me to not learn and change from those experiences. My work with students from the ages of 1.5 to 45 (that’s just a guestimate . . . dancing keeps us looking young wink) and my work with children in classrooms across the United States has moved me toward becoming a more enlightened, sensitive, accepting, and loving human and a more skilled, prepared, responsive, and aware dance educator and youth development professional.

So if your personal philosophy as an educator currently isn’t in complete cohesion with all of your other identities, or if you feel like your ideas are changing and your view of the world is expanding with each new hour of teaching you have, keep dancing and keep teaching. Your view of yourself, your understanding of the world, your ability to create meaningful experiences through movement . . . it is all only going to get better.

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