Patricia Moynihan


Philosophy of Teaching and Learning

As a high school physics and Earth science teacher in the Rochester City School District I believe that a successful teacher must meet each student where they are, both academically and emotionally.  Motivation in the classroom is essentially internal, as it is not possible to “make” a student learn.  Therefore it is essential for a teacher to connect with students on a personal level. Students need to know that they are cared about as an individual in order to develop a desire to care about the classroom subject matter.  My genuine care and concern for my student’s well-being and academic success are intertwined, and paramount to my teaching.

In order to cultivate a student’s commitment and desire to learn, students must feel that they can freely express their thoughts and ideas as well as ask questions in a non-judgmental environment.  I strive to create a student-centered learning environment that is accepting of learners with a variety of abilities and strengths. Students will also thrive if they have some autonomy in the classroom and can choose how they approach a project or a laboratory investigation. By employing this methodology I readily allow for seamless incorporation of differentiation. Developing challenging lessons which require analytical thinking and application of knowledge further provides an opportunity for my students to master content. Additionally student in my classroom gain valuable skills through working in groups and deepen their level of understanding through peer teaching.

Thorough lesson preparation and a high level of content knowledge are also critical to developing successful students. Using technology in the classroom and relating subject matter to students’ lives is also very important in my constructivist classroom, where open-ended questions allow student responses to drive lessons down the road to success!

For additional information about my work in the Fellows Program, please see my report Using Collaborative Learning Techniques in the Earth Science Classroom.