Shayna Cooke Teaching Philosophy



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Date01.01.2021
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I distinctly remember interviewing for a position that I desperately wanted, at a school where I would be honored to teach, some years ago now. I felt that the interview was going well until I was asked the following question, “Do you consider yourself a content-centered or student-centered teacher”? This surprisingly was not an easy question for me to answer. I can’t remember exactly what I fumbled through in that moment, but I’ve thought about this question a lot since that day. Now that I have had a lot of time to think about it, I can honestly say that, if asked again today, I would be able to answer this question, with confidence. My answer is this; there is no definitive answer to that question. To be a good teacher, I don’t believe you can be one OR the other. I think you have to be both. There are those students that really need for you to be content-centered. They have it all together and they are thirsty for knowledge, for you to lead them in the right direction of that knowledge and to fill them up. These kids are the ones that are driven and ready to meet their futures head on. And then, there are those children that will not remember the content that you taught them 5 years from now, but they will remember those moments with you. The ones when you took the time to look them in the face and ask them about their day and genuinely caring about their answer. The times when you gave ½ the period away to talk about something that happened that day that may have created a ripple effect in their lives and the lives of those in the community. These kids are the ones that will remember your kindness and your grace, years later, in the most random of moments, and they will take a moment to send an email, just to check in and say Hi and that they miss you. Both of these types of students are the reason that I come to my classroom every single day, ready to meet my students where they are. Part of my master’s work was to write my “Teaching Philosophy” before I graduated. Which is ironic when I look back at it, because how can you possibly philosophize about something that you have no real experience with. I recently read through my philosophy from 10 years ago and all I can say is that I have changed; I have grown and matured in my understanding of what it really means to be a teacher. I have taken a very idealistic philosophy of a profession I knew nothing about and I have turned it into a reality for myself. Though I wouldn’t word it the same as I did back then, I can say that I saw in myself the idealistic teacher who was passionate about the teaching moments, life skills, and my subject matter and since have made it my profession. I am still as passionate about teaching and my students today as I always thought I would be. This gives me hope because I know that in order to still feel this way about my life’s work, I must be making a difference with those students whose lives cross with mine. I’m not sure if this is actually a teaching “philosophy” as much as it is a teaching “reality” for me. Teaching allows me to place a positive footprint on the world that creates a ripple effect. And the best part of all is that if I screw it up today, if I miss the moment, I am allowed to try again…tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.
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