My Philosophy In 7 Words or Less: I Don't Teach Music, I Teach People.
It is of no use to teach if we don't first realize that the students who walk into our classrooms are people instead of just a number. To me, it is a top priority in my classroom to ensure that my students are viewed as human beings with real life experiences and that their needs are met. Without this, my students will not learn and perform to their highest ability. It is important for me to recognize that my classroom does not exist in isolation from the rest of my students' lives, and that the things happening in their daily lives impact the ways in which they learn. My philosophy of teaching revolves around two key statements: “teachers should situate themselves in a classroom as ‘one student more'" and “students cannot learn if their basic needs are not met first."
The first part of my teaching philosophy consists of situating myself in the classroom as "one student more." Learning does not start and end within my classroom walls, and the ways in which students interact with the surrounding world, both musically and non-musically, impact what they bring to the classroom on a daily basis. Environments are constantly changing, and I value the daily learning my students engage in, not only in their classrooms, but in their homes, studios, places of worship, and in all facets of their daily lives. It is important to me to acknowledge the daily learning my students take part in outside of my classroom and to "know that they know" things that they can bring to the classroom to enrich the learning I am facilitating.
The second tenet of my teaching philosophy centers around the idea that learning does not happen unless the basic needs of the student are met first. I draw this tenet of my philosophy mostly from Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (1943), which is structured as a pyramid where physiological needs, such as food, shelter, and sleep are on the bottom, meaning that these form the foundation and are the most basic, important human needs. Subsequently the needs higher up on the pyramid, such as safety and security, belonging and love, esteem, and self-actualization, build on this foundation. One cannot reach the higher tiers of this hierarchy without first fulfilling the tiers that form the foundation of the pyramid. I believe teaching and learning to occur somewhere within the esteem and self-actualization tiers of this hierarchy, which means that students are unable to learn to their full potential if their physiological, safety, and belongingness needs are not met. This is why meeting students’ basic needs, like food, mental and physical health, and a sense of safety in the classroom is so important to me as an educator, and why I believe students learn better when their basic needs are met.
Our students are more than just a number and ensuring that they are safe, have their needs met, and are viewed as human beings with real-life experiences and world views is the most important thing I strive for in my classroom. I don't teach music, I teach people.