Raira Sensei's Teaching Philosophy
- To me teaching is an act of service to others as they strive to achieve their goals and ambitions. While the rewards of teaching are not always great, helping a student to learn to speak Japanese so that they can build relationships with other Japanese speaking people, is a worthy endeavor.
- I believe that every student, no matter what level they are when they begin, has the potential to improve. While the responsibility on the student is great, I feel that it is the teacher’s responsibility to provide the setting and framework for the student to identify and progress toward their goals. In order to do this, I believe that a teacher should be able and willing to love the subject that they teach, to love teaching itself and to love the students that they teach. From this love comes the devotion and diligence that are key to becoming a good teacher and it is often what motivates the necessary dedication to spend hours preparing lesson plans and considering the needs of each student and their progression.
- My overarching objective for all my students is to equip them with the tools and experience to know how to build lasting, real relationships with other Japanese speaking people. To do this I try to focus on cultural fluency, speaking, listening, reading and writing in that order of emphasis. I believe that cultural fluency or competency is paramount and is gained by improving speaking, listening, reading and writing. To me cultural fluency is the ability to put one’s listener at ease to maximize communication and the sharing of ideas and experiences which strengthen a relationship.
- In order to accomplish this goal, I subscribe to a somewhat eclectic style of teaching. This is because I believe in the usefulness of performed language learning styles while recognizing that there is a need for rote memorization and drilling. However, I also believe that interaction in the classroom creates opportunities for language play and experimenting in a ‘safe’ environment, whether this interaction is based on completing a task or surrounding a specific theme, or even if it is simply part of a practice for a new grammar pattern.
- This philosophy is reflected in my classroom as I try and spend as much time allowing the students to produce in as meaningful a way as possible. I expect students to speak Japanese in the classroom and I speak as much Japanese as possible except when explaining grammar principles. I aspire to create a comfortable but realistic setting for the students to immerse themselves in the language and culture where they can practice and apply declarative knowledge many times over. Of the 20% of the student’s grade that I can manipulate, I give 7% for attendance as I believe that spending time in the Japanese environment is very valuable for the student. 3% is given to in-class oral assessment. 5% is given for homework assignments (worksheets and listening time). Finally, 5% is also given to the daily mini quizzes.
- I believe in the frequent assessment of student progression in all five of the areas mentioned above. This helps me to see the effectiveness of my philosophy and directs adjustments. Assessment takes the form of spontaneous in-class questioning, answering, following-up and correction. Additionally, I give daily quizzes to reinforce the previous day’s main points as well as kanji and vocabulary. Finally, more heavily weighted lesson quizzes are good measures of what each student is struggling with. This in turn helps to direct my teaching as well as the student’s own study efforts.
- Finally, I strive to be open to feedback from assessments as well as observers and the results of relevant research as I work on becoming a better teacher. I believe that a teacher always has room for improvement, just as a student does.