Philosophy of Education

Somebody asked me recently for my Philosophy of Education (with a one page limit!). It really made me think deep and I am glad I was asked. My response is below. What is your Philosophy of Education?

All children can learn and be successful, and they all deserve the best education.

My educational philosophy stems from the above statement; a simple yet powerful statement.  Students are first, second and third in all my decision-making processes.  This should be for all aspects of schooling.  It includes timetabling, recruitment of staff, infrastructure considerations, retention of staff, legal questions, financial discussions and much more.  A question often used by myself, and one I encourage all stakeholders in the school to use is, “What is best for the students?  The answer to this nearly always guides one in the right direction.  I keep this question at the forefront of all decisions that need to be taken on a daily basis.

The students are the most important members of a school community.  Under the correct conditions and with the appropriate strategies, all students can and will learn.  Every student must make significant progress in every lesson.  This goal and my personal definition of High Quality Learning should be of utmost importance and the top priority in all classrooms every day.  I believe the classroom is a living community and that everyone, from the principal to the students to the parents, must contribute in order to maintain a positive atmosphere.  I will not shirk from my responsibility as a leader to promote and enforce this aim.  Promotion of this involves developing and training the teaching body in ensuring the success criteria that make a great lesson are agreed upon, transparent and understood. Enforcement of this includes a clear appraisal system that takes into account all the aspects of a teacher’s job, and not solely one or two lesson observations, leadership is sufficiently trained to assess performance and follow-up is always done.  The ultimate goal towards teachers, as with students, is to encourage intrinsic motivation toweards their own personal development.

Children need constant support and guidance and their welfare should be a key focus at all times.  Happy and safe students are students who learn more effectively.   All children should be valued, respected, nurtured, encouraged, praised and supported. Children must learn and develop both academically and socially, and we must work hard to prepare them for adulthood.  This means creating well-rounded individuals who are not simply excellent at subjects such as Mathematics or Art or History, but who can hold a conversation, debate, empathise, care for others and all with humility, respect and modesty.  The world needs kindness more now than ever before.  It is our duty as educators to create these kind young adults.

As for the teachers who I am fortunate to work alongside with; I want to work with teachers who are academically well-qualified, who enjoy working with children, who are prepared to work really hard for those children, who have genuine humility, who are open to improving their practice for the entire length of their teaching career, who are idealists, who acknowledge the fallibility of the human condition, who always see the funny side of things, and teachers who teach for the love, not solely for the money.  In return I want to provide teachers with the very best opportunities for continuous professional development and learning, give them as much professional autonomy as I can over how they manage their working lives, treat them with respect, honesty and kindness, show them unqualified humanity, the highest level of integrity, acknowledge that they have a life to live outside of school, give them free tea and coffee on demand, and, even if they do it for the love, to pay teachers well.

International Teaching: Decisions, Decisions…

It is natural to feel anxious, even extreme anxiety when looking to work internationally. This can be the first time looking for a position abroad or even the fifth. After all, what do we really know about these schools and places? The online world only goes so far, inspection reports often give a snapshot at that particular inspection date, accreditation bodies are the same and leaders at schools no doubt paint a rosy picture.

This post proposes that there are simply three key factors to consider:

  1. Finances: Does it make sense for you on a financial level? What will your ‘take-home’ pay be? Take into consideration cost of living (various websites can help with this), benefit package (e.g. housing, flights home, insurance etc) and not just the salary. Does the currency of payment fluctuate with respect to your ‘home’ currency?
  2. School: Look at inspection reports, reviews online, speak with teachers and triangulate all that information to make an informed decision about whether you would ‘fit’ in that school.
  3. Location: What are your hobbies and will you be able to pursue them? Or pick up new ones? Is it safe? And if not, how secure will you be? Travel options, things to do, weather and safety are all considerations to be taken into account.

Finally, one strong, and probably the most important tip is to communicate with existing staff at the school. This will allow for a true opinion of the school, finances and location. Open (and quality?) schools would share all staff email addresses. Some would be selective but be very wary of the schools that do not share any. Why not? What is there to hide?

Communicating with staff currently at the school will give you a lot of information about the school, location and finances; The 3 key factors!

If anybody hits all three, please share!

Happy hunting!

Yasir Patel