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My Teaching Philosophy

“Educators need to know what happens in the world of the children with whom they work. They need to know the universe of their dreams, the language with which they skilfully defend themselves from the aggressiveness of their world, what they know independently of the school, and how they know it.” - Paulo Freire (2005).

Teaching is a social practice:

My most valued personal trait as an educator is ‘reflexive and effective communicator’ (C. Shield, Principal Katherine South Primary School, feedback, August 27, 2021). At the core of my identity is the understanding that I share my journey of common humanity with many people who are richly divergent from myself in experience, age, understanding, philosophy, socio-cultural heritage, and self-concept. From my youngest years I have been curious about others around me; my deepest interest has always been to understand how others uniquely perceive and experience their worlds. Effective communication requires the ability to transfer information clearly and sensitively, while co-currently valuing every opportunity to connect with, openly listen to, and endeavour to understand verbal and non-verbal input from others (Meyers, 2020). Nevertheless, hearing and understanding without bias, even from an open heart, is problematic (Education Queensland, 2002). My reflexivity is demonstrated through self-awareness and reflection upon the knowledge that personal schemata, emotions and reactions may involuntarily skew communications, resulting in subduction of voice.

Learning is co-constructed:

I position learning as a social construct. Piaget (1929) describes how human interaction is an important factor in learning, where previously constructed schemata are challenged, identified as inadequate, and adapted to include new understandings, through social experiences. Vygotsky (1978) builds upon this concept explaining that learning is co-constructed through the active participation of students and teachers in socially and proximally significant interactions. Bruner (1960) further explains how social proximity with an expert teacher or peer will effectively scaffold new learning, if participants are actively engaged in connecting what they already know, with optimal exposure to new information, through ongoing exchange of knowledge. These assertions exemplify my viewpoint that effective communication and positive relationships are essential for productive learning encounters, and explain my enduring goal to create, nurture, celebrate and support a culturally rich, inclusive community of learners.

Teaching is relevant:

As a teacher in an emerging Australian educational landscape, I note the discontinuity between political liberalist rhetoric and the chalkface reality of my everyday primary school classroom.  In my mind’s eye, I see the faces of this new generation of Australians, both culturally and ethnically rich in diversity, and I hear their voices echoing traces of accents, originating from heritages that span the globe. Within my classroom, sense of belonging is mediated by providing an environment where students are represented, valued, and included (Pendergast, Allen, McGregor & Ronksley-Pavia, 2018), where they develop active agency and authentic voice (Usher, 2015; Kernis, 1995), and where they feel safe, happy, encouraged, supported, and invested in their own learning (Jones & Shindler, 2016; Claro, Paunesku & Dweck, 2016).

Teaching is transformative:

Children have many factors in their lives that impact their ability to thrive at school. All children bring along an invisible ‘backpack’ rich with cultural currency (Lareau, 2002). Whether this backpack is valued as an important resource of tools, understanding and knowledge, or perceived as an unwanted burden, rests largely on the teacher (Lee & Bowen, 2006).  The Australian Professional Standards for Teachers (AITSL, 2017) mandate that teachers know students and how they learn including the ‘physical, social, and intellectual development and characteristics of students’ (1.1), ‘strategies to support full participation of students with disability’ (1.6), ‘students with diverse linguistic, cultural, religious, and socioeconomic backgrounds’ (1.3) and ‘strategies for teaching Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students’ (1.4).


The socially-just teacher understands that significant power differentials do exist in the primary school classroom, and that identification and removal of barriers, as well as active measures to empower student voice, are essential for student inclusion and success (Shindler, 2009; Armstrong, Armstrong, & Spandagou, 2011, UNICEF, 2017; CAST, 2023). Creating a safe space in the Australian classroom requires authentic acknowledgement and dynamic reconciliation practices (Education Services Australia, 2019). Through developing professional and responsive relationships with students, parents, colleagues, specialists, and communities, I purpose to deepen engagement and enrich learning opportunities for all my students.

Teaching is making a difference, everyday:

I take a strengths-based approach (Department of Education and Early Childhood Development, 2012) in my teaching practice and believe that transformative change occurs when students develop self-efficacy (Bandura, 1982; Kernis, 1995). Self-Determination Theory (Ryan & Deci, 2000) explains how supporting students’ needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness in a positive learning environment (Freiberg & Lamb, 2009; De Nobile; Deci & Ryan, 1987): personal growth, in the form of improved well-being, self-concept, and socio-emotional development, lead to increased self-efficacy, resilience and internally driven motivation for learning (Deci & Ryan, 1985; Pitzer & Skinner, 2017; Dweck, 2007). These are important predictors of successful achievement outcomes and protective factors for students experiencing adversity (Van Ryzin, 2010; Pitzer & Skinner, 2017).


As a teacher it is my mission to work alongside my students, combining high expectations (Sousa & Tomlinson, 2018) with unconditional positive regard (Van Ryzin, 2011), explicit social and emotional teaching (Shindler, 2009), inclusive and creative pedagogies (CAST, 2023), and a meaningful, integrated, inquiry-based curriculum (Hidi & Renninger, 2006; Renninger & Hidi, 2011; Sousa & Tomlinson, 2018) to support each child to develop their disposition as successful,  life-long learner.

“Every child has a different learning style and pace. Each child is unique, not only capable of learning but also capable of succeeding.”

Robert John Meehan (2022).

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