TEACHER OF THE YEAR
Mr. Henry Phillips
My philosophy of teaching began to develop at an early age. Both my father and mother worked in the ministry for as long as I can remember. I grew up learning the importance of building meaningful relationships, the necessity of a safe, structured and stable environment, and the value of having an understanding disposition. The foundation of my philosophy of teaching is built from the value my parents placed on raising me and my siblings and ministering to others; it comes from a centuries old statement by the Apostle Paul, “For though you have ten thousand instructors, yet not many fathers.” In this it is understood that teaching is about
developing a relationship.
When I was hired to teach second grade at Liberty Elementary I walked into my first classroom full of excitement, yet feeling some fear and uncertainty. I had fear because I knew set before me was a great task which carried a huge responsibility. I was uncertain because I questioned my own ability. While standing at the threshold I thought of how each student might feel the same fear and uncertainty and it is MY job to make them feel safe and capable. The truth is “teaching” is an art that requires you to manage the classroom, apply your experiences, utilize resources, and build relationships with each child. I find strength and wisdom from those
who have walked the road before me and encouragement and inspiration from the children who look to me for guidance.
I know having a well-managed classroom is imperative to teaching! Students want and need to know what is expected. In my classroom we have a short list of “rules” that the students help create and we have a procedure for everything! Having the students help generate the class rules and making sure they know each and every procedure helps them develop a sense of ownership and a feeling of structure and stability within the classroom. I believe a structured classroom is fundamental to the overall learning process. The most important way for the students to learn structure and stability is to see it modeled by their teacher. When situations get out of hand, as they do at times, I must maintain a calm demeanor and demonstrate the structure and stability I hope to instill within my students. Maintaining composure is crucial to developing positive relationships and creating a structured and stable classroom atmosphere.
My teaching style is student centered. I am simply the facilitator of the learning process and each student is responsible for his or her learning. I use hands-on engaging lessons through Science Technology Engineering & Mathematics (STEM) activities. These activities teach problem solving, cooperation, in-depth thought processes, curiosity, and tenacity. When the students are involved in the activity, their minds are engaged and learning comes naturally. After each activity we have a time of “sharing”. I believe permitting students to share what they’ve learned will help other students who are struggling see the lesson from another perspective. “Sharing” time also develops a respectful family atmosphere and allows each student to contribute to the learning process.
Most importantly, I believe that teaching is about relationships. I know that if I can touch their heart, I can open their mind. It is about growing together, supporting one another, trusting each other, and respecting everyone. I believe that teaching requires a great deal of patience and understanding. Each student comes from a different background and walk of life. Many of these precious children I encounter each day have not encountered the life I was fortunate enough to have growing up. If I can pass just a portion of the love and stability that I had to just ONE, then I have made a difference. It is not merely curriculum, curiosity, and work ethic, but the “goodness” life has to offer that I want to bestow on to them.