May 22nd, 2019

Teaching Philosophy and Mission Statement

Hello, fellow global citizens! It’s Kaila here coming at you live from The Washington Center.

This week on Monday we met with Christopher Mesaros a Senior LEAD Instructor from The Washington Center to discuss writing a teaching philosophy statement. Despite the groans and moans from the lack of caffeine in our systems, Chris insisted we start with a classic icebreaker activity. We should have guessed, but the teacher is always right and as our drawing skills were put to the test with a game of Pictionary, it livened the room up for early morning class. For the game, we were asked to write down three of our values when it comes to the classroom. Chris crafted a bridge between our game and lesson and explained how our values are key components of our mission statement. The mission statement is the main idea that our teaching philosophy is built around. I immediately thought about a mission statement that has been plastered to my brain for the past four years:

“The mission of High Point University is to deliver educational experiences that enlighten, challenge and prepare students to lead lives of significance in complex global communities.” -High Point University

Chris read my mind and we proceeded to use the HPU mission statement to determine the university’s values just like someone would do when they would read our own educator mission statement. Mr. Mesaros tried to get us to do the same with the mission statement from his alma mater, the University of Michigan, but I personally did not find it that extraordinary. We spent the rest of our time in the classroom where we discussed three main things:

  1. What our values as teachers are and how those connect to our teaching philosophy.
  2. What a mission statement is.
  3. How to write a mission statement.

After discussing these things and looking at some examples, Chris gave us a few moments to work on our teaching mission statement. For some of us, this looked like aggressively typing the same sentence over and over again in different ways, drawing circles on the back of his handout, or staring off into space contemplating the question: What are my values? and When exactly is lunch today? He guided us as we tried different drafts and analyzed our writing and how they connected to our core educator beliefs. After drawing circles on the back of the handout, I went through at least five drafts of my mission statement just within those couple minutes from writing and re-writing one sentence that explains my teaching values. After this, Chris tasked us to transform that one-liner mission statement and expand it into a 500-word teaching philosophy.  So, Chris sent us on our way to go on more adventures and work on writing a rough draft of our teaching philosophy. From museum and school visits, we were all over the DC map the next few days and spent the evenings wrestling with words trying to make sense of all our values as educators.

Flustered, tired, but prepared we met with Chris again early Wednesday 5/21 to review our teaching philosophy drafts. We shared our drafts with peers and had them give feedback. This was a great collaborative effort as we all worked on establishing a level of professional writing of such personal feelings and beliefs. He left us with a growth mindset message that our teaching philosophy is never finished and will always be in the draft phase as we grow and change as educators. We left the Washington Center to head to the National Education Association and the SEED School for a very exciting and packed day. I personally found our time with Chris very reflective and motivating. I can’t wait to take my teaching mission statement and watercolor paint it on a trendy canvas for my classroom. You can see this canvas and my trendy classroom goals on my Pinterest account: @kailarow.

Here are some of the amazing mission statements from all of us:

“In my classroom, I want to care and support students passionately in order to help them foster a love of learning and develop the self-confidence to take on any challenge that they might face” -Special Education Teacher

“I want to enlighten, empower and instill the wisdom that is necessary for my 3rd-grade students in order for them to have a Christ-centered life and make a difference in the world” -Private School Elementary Teacher

“I will spend my time in my classroom brightening all students’ passion for learning by focusing on progress through facilitating hands-on student investigations in content, collaboration, social and emotional learning” -Elementary Education Teacher

It is evident that through the articulation of these educators’ values that Christopher Mesaros from The Washington Center was able to help us HPU graduates craft inspiring mission statements.

Thanks for the support friends and family. Catch y’all next time!