Looking back at the working theory of instruction that I developed for Educational Psychology I still find myself trying to balance the autonomy supporting environments called for my critical theorists such as Paolo Freire as well as psychologists such Edward Deci with the constraints of a society that has defined an intelligent person in a particular way. In other words, a teacher has to balance the two often contradictory goals of encouraging student autonomy and student-centered classroom environments with the goal of instilling a certain core knowledge in the students. For example, in order to be successful in life one must be able to communicate in Standard English, as well as be able to in general navigate what Lisa Delpit calls "the culture of power."
I still believe that a balance between the two must be made and believe that this balance has been reflected in my classroom practices. I was sometimes the giver of knowledge and sometimes I allowed students to come to their own conclusions. As the giver of knowledge I sometimes lectured, asked questions, graded tests, and gave notes. As a facilitator of student knowledge I sometimes asked them their opinions on concepts being studied, gave them open-ended assignments that allowed them creativity, and took student input to heart in my classroom environment. I had no problem teaching a certain skill that would be useful for standardized testing (such as how to answer questions in complete sentences) but I also had no problem allowing students to control the curriculum sometimes (such as when I allowed a conversation to shift to violence in their community and what they could do about it).
One dilemma that permeated my working theory of instruction and my student-teaching experience was how to make the materials of "the culture of power" engaging to the students and relevant to their lives. One way that I sought to do this, both in my working theory and in practice, was to make things situationally interesting for students. I introduced concepts with fun and interactive activities to try to get students engage in the topics. I also mixed "culture of power" materials with more autonomy supportive materials so that students were not sitting through any one whole class period like empty vessels.
Lastly, my working theory of instruction was concerned with issues of diversity and multicultural education, issues that are still big concerns for me. In my working theory of instruction I discuss how trust is an important aspect of any student-teacher relationship, but that there is often a barrier of mistrust between teachers and students of different races (although this can also exist between a teacher and student of the same race). I tried to facilitate this trust with my students through the use of individual conferences and having a good sense of humor. I also tried to implement a transformative approach to multicultural education, giving students the opportunity to view things from many different perspectives.
In general, my working theory of instruction continues to represent my philosophy of teaching. While certain emphases may have changed, in that I now recognize even more so the importance of situational interest in the learning process, my overall theory has stayed relatively in task during my student-teaching experience. Whether this is a good thing or a bad thing remains to be seen