January 10, 2020
A Philosophy and Statement of Teaching
The following was written for Union University and is Coach Freeman’s personal philosophy and teaching statement.
Students step into the classroom with unlocked potential, waiting to be released into the future. Crossing over from the business world to the teaching environment was a simple decision, after realizing the tremendous potential in the students of my community to change the world. It is my belief the teacher is the facilitator and developer of students who will one day be better, than we ourselves, ever imagined to be.
I believe there are five essential elements to build the foundation of teaching in a project/career based classroom. (1) Students possess boundless potential to learn and develop. (2) Teachers are servant-leaders, using academic knowledge and life experience to inspire success. (3) Resources are unlimited and untapped for partnerships in education when cultivated creatively. (4) Students need an engaging, open and creative partnership with community leaders for opportunities. (5) Education leads to a very high return of investment (RTI) when the process cycles into the community and back to the school.
To facilitate this process, the teacher must see the untapped potential in every student. This comes in many forms and needs to be delegated individually to the needs of the student. Collectively grouping students into a unified assessment is an older and more traditional system of teaching. However, the environment of the modern teacher is multi-faceted and weaves a tapestry of student learning, parental engagement, community partnerships and measurable results and returns. Mastery is not measured by a grade, but rather by investment and certification. While it has become cliché to say “it takes a village,” to raise a child, I do believe it indeed takes a community. This community is not just a group of individuals and businesses, but rather it’s the entire realm of who your community identifies to be. In White House, where family living in a bedroom community is high, the role of the teacher is critical in developing students who will graduate their own high school, explore the world, raise families and be tremendous leaders and citizens which make communities flourish. Every banker, real estate agent, pastor, retail store owner, small business entrepreneur, government official, civil servant, and more should have a vested role in seeing students succeed and grow communities. They were once the students! Any teacher with a vision for this kind of investment will recognize its potential early and craft a set of values in the classroom which lay as the foundation for implementing it.
I expected to be a teacher focused on assertive discipline and was impressed by the theory introduced by Lee and Marlene Canter. While I have noticed that once I stepped into the classroom, my thoughts changed rapidly, there were still very essential elements of classroom management and preparation which were powerful tools for my teaching philosophy. I lightened up on discipline but reinforced preparation, and found my relationships with the students and understanding of their needs was just as important as the lesson plans, knowledge of standards and resource management. If teachers are going to inspire students to be active community leaders, who reinvest in what made them successful, then we are more than just academic instructors. There has to be cooperative buy-in into both our work, and them as students. There is untapped potential in students, and this is a belief I hold strongly in every classroom in the educational. Students can do it, but I am happy to be a person who believes in them and desires to inspire them to find and release it.
I found my educational philosophy to be very similar to my life philosophy. Jesus spoke to his disciples in Luke 22:26, just a short time before his death. His disciples were arguing just before dinner about who was the greatest. Jesus then said, “among you it will be different. He that is among you that wants to be your leader, must first be a servant.” I adopted this verse as a foundation for how I live. It is also how I teach, and believe teaching should be accomplished. “They who are among you that want to be your teacher must first be your student.” I feel like you could place every single influential profession in your community in this statement by Jesus and it still be effective. Jesus knew that resources were unlimited and untapped for partnerships with this community, his world. In fact, he regularly stated he expected his disciples to do greater works that he ever did. How is this possible in the classroom? We as teachers have to find the resources in our community which inspire the students to dream of success, partnership and achievement and believe they can be the ones to cultivate change.
I was a volunteer in education for 25 years before obtaining my license to teach. A friend of mine, who is a coach, is now a colleague. She led me like a student and inspired me to never give up. As we have learned in our academic classes about the power of “marigold” teachers – people who make everything around them better – she became mine. She inspired me that age was no limitation to uncover my potential, and the future was so full of opportunity. So as I further my education, my focus is now on completing what is necessary for me to teach, but the greater issue is what can I do for students to inspire them to achieve? Every day, she mentors me and pushes me even to the point of rigor and strain, to never let up on moving higher. This is the same approach it takes in the classroom for the patient and motivated teacher, who will take a student from the bare, beginning stages of potential to blossom them into the future. Those students become business owners, dads and moms, coaches, teachers and more. This same type of teacher will call upon creative partnerships within the community to bring validity to the vision. The classroom will be full of guest speakers, mentors, and students will soon learn that scholarships, internships and jobs await for those who will pursue dreams and excel. The community partnerships also bring credibility to the teacher and capture buy-in of the students.
The return on investment comes back to the school in multiple waves. It creates opportunities for students, then partnerships for work, and finally foundation for government laws for education, funding for academic facilities and programs, and people capital for roles and responsibilities. Mike Keith is the Voice of the Titans (NFL) and has worked with my class in broadcasting and business partnerships. While it’s impressive for the students to see this partnership, this takes on greater meaning when students realize he works with his local high school at Battle Ground Academy and is my personal friend and colleague. When Mike Keith asks our students to help produce a video for Titans online in our classroom, and then allow them to shadow his coaches show, immediately they see how quickly a small-town Tennessee kid can excel to big dreams and re-invest in their own future. This is the return and the value of partnership which all teachers should embrace, no matter the field, but especially in the career technical education path.
In conclusion, I use these principles to build my goals for the future in education as a teacher and a developer of students. I want to have a classroom which is engaging, value-driven, teaches kids their worth and potential and pushes them to rigorous practice to master their craft. To put this in practical terms, I have an ambitious goal to build a full broadcasting program for our high school within three years, and then launch this same principle county-wide in all Sumner County high schools. A fully-funded broadcasting and media platform would graduate 10-20 students per year into the work force, which immediately translates to scholarships and internships in as many as 10 area colleges and universities specializing in news and sports broadcasting. In turn, those students who do not pursue full-time careers in media would then return to their own school and teach, announce, serve, coach, build, grow and develop multimedia platforms in their own communities. Imagine the community partnership, when organizations can turn to the high school to be the leaders in media management, social media marketing, broadcasting and news, and this powerful world is first generated in the high school classroom.
One day, I hope to sit back and admire the work of students who never knew they had the potential, but listened on the very first day of class when we declare, “one day, you will be better than me, and I want you to change the world.” This is why I am here.
January 9, 2010
By Kris Freeman, White House High School
I am from a baseball glove
From a green Oliver tractor and a front porch swing
I am from a red brick farm house
And a big barn with a loft
I am from a large Maple tree in the front yard
Whose branches got in the way of the baseball game
I am from back yard grape vines and the shop
From Cloyd D and Edith
I am from hard work and loving people
And from singing in the den at the piano
From church on Sunday
To Just As I Am
I am from Murlin and Viola
From gravy and biscuit and fried okra
From a three-fingered wave and Liberty overalls
And the seven truck and an AM radio
I am from baseball in the front yard
I am from these moments thankful
And this is what made me who I am today
The I Am From Poem (original by George Ella Lyon)
Today in our class, we filled out the I Am From poem to talk about students and connecting to their past and their family. This exercise reminds us of our values and experiences and we used the poem to learn typography and writing skills.