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A Teaching Philosophy that stems from Self-Care and Self-Responsibility

September 17, 2017

My teaching philosophy is very simple… it is based around three key elements:


1. I like to make sure the children know that they matter and are valued – that they are being heard, and that they are seen, felt and ‘met’ first and foremost for the amazing beings they naturally are, rather than being recognised solely for what they do or achieve in the classroom.


2. Taking responsibility for the quality I share, which means taking responsibility for truly caring for myself. I know that the way that I care for myself brings a certain quality to my presence, which I then naturally bring to the way I interact with the children in the classroom. Caring for myself and the body I bring to work is as simple as making sure I am well rested, being aware of what I am doing as I am doing it, eating supportive foods, making space to go for walks, checking in with how I am feeling and honouring that, building genuine relationships and communicating with people, and preparing myself and my work in a caring way. I understand the primary importance of self-care and the ripple effect it has on others. I know that children feel this level of self-responsibility and that it supports them to feel safe, connected with and nurtured. This then allows for the freedom of their natural expression and joy to just be. Thus an excellent learning environment is created.


3. To the best of my ability I make learning meaningful, fun, engaging and filled with purpose. . .  this creates a feeling of equal-ness in the classroom and learning becomes effortless. Kids works best when they are valued, feel settled, enjoy their learning and understand why that learning is happening. As teachers we have an opportunity to bring this to all areas of education.



I know that children thrive when they:

  •     Are engaged with eye contact and a caring voice

  •     Feel heard and understood by their educators and classmates.

  •     Are allowed the time to process information and develop their own way and rhythm

  •     Grow with being held lovingly accountable for their actions


Children do feel everything around them. We as educators have an enormous opportunity to reflect something pretty amazing and special to them, if we choose to.


It’s important for children to feel free to express their feelings and be in a space where their feelings are honoured and not overridden or brushed off. This does not mean pandering to every child’s whim but rather a true acknowledgment of how they feel when they feel it.


We all feel, and children are extremely in-tune with what is happening around them and how it is happening. Whether we as teachers choose to ignore it, try to control it, numb it or whether we embrace this fact, children see, hear and feel everything. They can spot hypocrisy a mile away. When we are real, caring and genuine with them, we are offering a true support for learning to take place.


We must be realistic. Students do need to experience a wide range of learning activities and are required to meet many outcomes within their schooling. However, I have experienced that teachers who build quality relationships with children know what is needed for each child to learn in a way that works for him or her.


For me, true learning stems from the children. It is a result of when things make sense to them and have been delivered with meaning. No one likes to learn something if they cannot on some level understand the purpose behind it. As kids love fun and playfulness, learning through play and engaging children wherever possible makes for a happy class.


I have come to the understanding that children know a lot more than we as adults give them credit for. They know and sense what way works best for them…


As a teacher, I continue to ask myself:

            How can I further support their knowing and being?

            Am I doing anything that gets in the way of their natural way of being and learning?

            Is my way of being, my classroom and conduct all about people first or task first?

And to be honest, this is also how I approach the way I parent. As parents, we also want our kids to be who they naturally are.


When we make life about relationships and people first… the teaching part becomes simple. As Teachers we have Amazing Opportunities!


We as educators are with the kids for the same amount of time that they are with their parents each school day. Every teacher has the opportunity to support children to have a strong sense of self and to be healthy and confident individuals. In the profession of education, teachers are always  reflecting and have the opportunity to reflect - to inspire and foster within children a true way of being that has the potential to stay with them for their whole life.


As teachers we have the potential to not only teach but to fully support children in learning how to be in their fullness and amazingness within society and Our World. This means – how they actually are with others!!!


If kids grow up to be adults who are living in their fullness, knowing how to genuinely connect with others, the rest of humanity benefits. Why is this not our main priority? Why is this quality and foundation not something that is discussed in teaching criteria, job advertisements, teaching interviews, at staff meetings and in general discussions with colleagues.


Let’s truly consider . . . What would our world be like if all children grew up, were supported and educated in a way that said,

“Just be You. You are already Awesome. Now let’s give you the support and training in all subjects while you ascertain what you feel drawn to pursue and thus study further so you may eventually bring your awesomeness to the world, in the profession in which you choose to bring it.”


What if we today took the responsibility to be the true role models who reflect back that it is possible for children to choose how they are as a grown up, to remain as themselves without changing to suit their boss, or putting on a different face for their family or compromising their true self in any way, shape or form…


How powerful and unified would our future generations be if all children were supported to:

  • Develop an unwavering trust in themselves,

  • Know how to honour themselves and therefore others,

  • Truly self-care so that they always looked after their bodies,

  • Develop and practice a way of speaking that is clear, without any force and in a way that does not leave anyone feeling lesser?


Teaching from our quality of being first is the most supportive way to be with children. How we choose to look after ourselves, behave and live is not another program to be implemented on top of everything else, to achieve something, but something that is actually a very natural way of relating.


My philosophy is a lived one. It is lived each day by me in full to the best of my ability, without perfection, but definitely with a loving intention and dedication.


A Loving and Lived philosophy!



By Johanna Smith, Bachelor of Education (Major Special Needs, Minor Psychology), Graduate Certificate of Early Childhood, Studying Diploma of Counseling, Esoteric Complementary Health Practitioner, Woman, Teacher, Mother, Wife and Friend


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