Teacher's Philosophy of Teaching

Ms. Michele Derr


What I love the most about teaching is that every school day is different! Each student is different and each lesson brings about a new challenge. Being able to think on your feet is extremely important in education. While a lesson may meet all of the necessary criteria, if the students are not responding to how the lesson is being presented then it may not be as effective as it could be. Being an outstanding teacher comes from various attributes. I believe as a highly effective teacher I am flexible, organized, and understanding. While these are not the only important factors, I do believe that these qualities have aided me in my work. By combining these qualities with a passion for teaching, I consider myself to be an outstanding teacher.


By having flexibility in my teaching style, it allows me to reach students on multiple levels. During the past four years of teaching, I have come to a better understanding that not all lessons are best delivered through a lecture or note taking. Instead, using different technologies and real life scenarios can help to initially engage and better focus students. By planning interactive lessons, my students display greater curiosity while deepening their understanding of English Language Arts. Being flexible also allows me to analyze the success of my lessons. Through the observation of students, individual writing conferences, and data-driven practices, it allows me to revisit big ideas and continue to make improvements for future lessons.


Organization is another important part of being an effective teacher. With the constant changes in education, teachers have become responsible for completing many different kinds of educational paperwork, in addition to traditional report cards. Whether it be an exceptional student’s Individualized Education Plan or maintaining an Excel spreadsheet of student writing data, I feel it is necessary to keep these important teaching and learning tools readily available. Now more than ever, it is important to keep student data in an organized format for anybody who may need to quickly access such information. In addition, I feel it is as important to refer to such data for future lesson planning to ensure higher rates of student success. Analyzing this important student data gives the teacher answers while at the same time creating questions for teachers to reflect upon.


In addition, I also believe that having an understanding of your students is absolutely necessary for providing an appropriate learning environment. Through my teaching experience with iLearn, I found that it is extremely important to understand both the academic and personal background of each student. In order to help my students learn to the best of their ability, I must always strive to see the educational environment from their perspective. By making myself available and maintaining an open door policy, my past and current students are able to approach me about any issues they are having. Specifically, during my first year in Passaic I learned the importance of connecting with your students. I set aside personal time after school to foster a stronger relationship with my students. By offering my time to these students for extra guidance outside of the classroom, it greatly improved my interactions with them inside the classroom. Three years later, I still maintain contact with my very first group of students as well as their parents through district-wide events. Seeing my students grow over the past three years has greatly reinforced my personal belief that if you open yourself up to your students, it in turn opens doors for better communication. This then fosters a learning environment based on mutual respect.


With every teacher comes a different and unique teaching philosophy that directly affects their style of teaching. Through these personal beliefs, it allows each teacher to hone their skills with intentions of reaching each and every learner. As a result, this profession continues to provide me with rewarding results both inside and outside of the classroom. With each sequential year of teaching, These experiences continue to allow me to grow not only as a professional, but as a person as well.


The iLearn Teacher of the Year Program honors excellence in classroom education and provides a forum to showcase many outstanding educators whose efforts and example have inspired their students, their colleagues, and the communities they serve.


iLearn Schools Teacher of the Year is the highest honor that iLearn Schools can bestow upon a teacher. This program annually recognizes and rewards teachers who have demonstrated outstanding leadership and excellence in teaching.


Every spring each campus selects a Teacher of the Year and amongst them, one iLearn Schools Teacher of the Year is selected.  The one teacher that is selected as the iLearn Schools Teacher of the Year represents iLearn Schools in the Governor’s Teacher of the Year and the New Jersey Charter School Association Teacher of the Year programs.