A teacher’s beliefs about education have a direct impact on their teaching style. They form their beliefs from 5 main sources: their own experiences as students, their teachers (in the school or in higher education), their parents, the media, and the experiences of others around them.
Own experience as students
I do not remember much of what went on when I was in school. I was a very sick child and was constantly on medication. I missed many school days so I could visit various doctors. My teachers were not very understanding and I became what is known as a “special education kid with behavior problems”. If ADHD was as famous 40 years ago as it is now, I would have been diagnosed with ADHD. You will be glad to know that I did not have ADHD. Nor do many of children who are diagnosed with it today. Never the less, my own experiences with school taught me to consider kids in a holistic way rather than just kids that I needed to instill knowledge into.
The teachers we meet throughout our live will show us both good and bad examples of what a teacher should be. I had horrible teachers who were excellent at teaching me what teachers should never be like. And I had some of the most inspiring teachers who taught me love, respect and ways to help kids grow and evolve.
As teachers, another source of beliefs about what teachers should be like stems from what our parents think.
Sometimes it is what our parents do in relation to our learning or our teachers. We may choose to copy it or we may vow never to do it. For example, my dad got into a conflict with one of my teachers. They each used me to “fight” the other. This taught me to examine my own feelings as a teacher. And to make sure I did not get the kids involved in any disagreements I might have with their parents. On the other hand, my dad was very good at math and he helped me a lot during school. This made me realize that as a teacher, I need to use each parents’ abilities to help their child.
I have seen a few movies about teaching that inspired me a lot. I watched many of them when I was already a teacher and they inspired me to be the person I am today. Among them were: Pay It Forward, Dead Poets Society, Freedom Writer, Dangerous Minds, Finding Forrester, Music of The Heart, Take The Lead, Lean On Me, and Remember The Titans.
Books have also shaped my teaching philosophy. Many of them were about philosophy, about motivation, perception, education, memory, learning and about the way the brain works.
My husband Gal and I were in the same class in grade 10. He was a very good student and I was not. I watched him throughout that year and realized he was not perfect. He was a good student, and as a result, teachers gave him discounts. They forgave him for small mistakes because they knew he was generally a good student. As a kid, this was when I finally came to the conclusion that it was a better idea to be a good student, because good students get discounts that non-good students never get.
The main problem with studying to become a teacher is that most of the degree is focused on teaching how to deliver content, how to draw up lesson plans and how to test, instead of working on the most important ingredient in education the teachers’ belief system. What these institutions do not understand is that each teacher’s belief system will impact thousands of children. When I run a professional development day for teachers, many of the teachers come up to me at the end of the presentation to say wish they knew this information before they went out into the field and into teaching. I agree. Working on teachers’ beliefs is more important than doing lesson plans and instilling knowledge.
When I examined my own beliefs, I found out I had many there were not so healthy for me. I had received them from my parents and teachers. Things like, “Kids are lazy” or, “There is nothing I can do if this is his IQ” or, “There is a limit to what a teacher can do”. Luckily, my degree included a course called, “The emotional hygiene of the special education teacher”. It helped me examine my beliefs and change some of them.
If you wonder what is wrong with kids today, I think it is their education system! They are part of an education system that does not teach them how to do things but still checks if they do them well.
– Ronit Baras
It is important for teachers to examine their own beliefs and form empowering ones that will sever them well in their careers. The beliefs we have do not have to be right or wrong, but they are either empowering or limiting to us. Teachers need to strengthen good beliefs and eliminate those that are limiting and disempowering. Plant seeds for good beliefs. Quotes are a great way to do this. If I ever found nice ones, I used to copy them out nicely and pin them up. I do this even today. You can get an idea of some of the quotes about teaching and education that inspired me here. Find the quotes you identify with. Your beliefs about teaching are your teaching bible.
I have often been asked by teachers and readers to share my own teaching bible. My bible is huge, much like any other teacher who has been in the field for many years. I will share some of my beliefs with you over the next few weeks.
Join me next weeks for a list of 100 empowering beliefs about teaching and education.