In The Beginning
When I was in college, I had an assignment for one of my classes. The assignment was to write up my own philosophy of education. It was somewhat noble (“I teach children to be better people through music” or something like that). It was substantially trite. Most importantly, it lacked any passion behind it.
In my very first teaching job interview, the principal interviewing me asked me what my educational philosophy was. I gave some sort of flimsy answer because I wasn’t prepared for the interview. He gave me a chance later on to ask me if I had any questions. I asked him what his educational philosophy was. What he said has stuck with me ever since.
He said that he views education as a customer service industry. That caught me off guard because I had never heard of that approach. He went on to say that we as teachers provide a service. We provide the community with educated children. We provide the students with a safe learning environment. We provide the students with useful and relevant education.
[W]e as teachers provide a service. We provide the community with educated children.This philosophy did not mesh with my paper I had written in college at all. In fact, this was completely foreign to my concept. Customer service? Isn’t that the people who answer phones and punch buttons on the cash register at stores? I even worked in the customer service department of Best Buy very briefly. But I didn’t serve customers. I served myself. I wanted my $5.50 an hour, so I showed up to work, answered some phones, punched some buttons, scanned some SKUs, and checked credit card signature panels.
As I have begun to integrate that principal’s philosophy into my own, I have come to understand much more what it means. This past summer, I began to really realize that my classroom model should be based more on that of a small business than of a university or even the classrooms that I had experienced in high school.
Then And Now
As a first year teacher, I never made contact with parents, unless they contacted me first.
As a fifth year teacher, I send out emails to parents, post updates on a blog, have a website on the district server, have misbehaving students call home to inform their parents of the problems, and even give parents opportunities to come up and help out at school.
As a first year teacher, I tried to make students to learn what I felt they needed to learn.
As a fifth year, I try to motivate the students to learn what I know they need to learn.
As a first year teacher, I had all the answers, but the kids just didn’t listen to me.
As a fifth year teacher, I seem to have less answers than I did then, and I listen to and learn from more experienced teachers. I also share with less experienced teachers or anyone else who is willing to listen to me.
I realize that if I am going to have kids who absolutely love coming to my class, I must give them a reason to want to come back. The same is true for any business that is successful.