Throughout my lifetime of studies, I found it to be of critical importance to maintain a philosophy on your life. For me, having a philosophy meant constantly analyzing why I was doing what I was doing. I analyzed why I wanted to study at a university as well as why I continue to study today. My philosophy on life has always been to learn the unknown and have no expectations from anyone besides myself. I cannot say I have always been able to uphold these beliefs, but I certainly remind myself of them on a daily basis. Not only did I have a philosophy on life, but I also developed a philosophy for teaching. Although in life I chose to have no expectations, in my career, however, I chose to believe in higher expectations.
Teaching students with learning and emotional disabilities, gave me the realization that most of them lived a lifetime of very low expectations. How can I child succeed with such low expectations? I had to teach my students to raise their own expectations of themselves and strive for the impossible; therefore, my philosophy became to teach each student to strive for their own greatness; something, which is different for each child. I am pleased to note that current research agrees with me. Rivera-McCutchen (2012) found that a school with a great reputation for creating success fell low when it came to having high expectations for their students. Those students claimed they felt ill prepared for their post-secondary education due to the lack of high expectations (Rivera-McCutchen, 2012).
As I continue my path of continued educational research, I find that I will also need a philosophy for this. I was confused. How do I create a philosophy on research? I would normally chime back the Nike slogan, “Just Do It”, (Martin, 2013). As I soon discovered, there were similar philosophical principles that guided educational research as there are in social and even business research. Educational research, as defined by Creswell (2012), is a way to help educators improve their craft by helping them understand the problems in their classrooms, schools, campuses, etc… Creswell continues to state the value of this type of research because it “provides valuable conceptual writing and presenting skills”, (p. 26), for those conducting and presenting the research.
My life philosophy has guided me on how to live my life; therefore, my research philosophy will guide how I conduct my research. My purpose in researching is to find ways to improve our country’s educational system one school at a time and quite possibly, just one classroom at a time. I realize the importance of most types of research and at this point in my life; I am very interested in excelling at conducting, evaluating, and presenting research.
Some of my past research shows that in order for students to excel, they must feel part of the school as well as cared for by the adults in their school (Anderman, et al., 2011, Garza, 2009, Goodenow, 1993, McMahon & Washburn, 2003, Poyrazli et al., 2008, and Saunders & Saunders, 2001). From this information, I want to develop a mentoring program for teachers where they can learn how to make their classrooms and behaviors more caring for the perception of their students. I say perception of their students, because in all honesty, many of us (teachers) do not realize we might be behaving insensitively or we might be pushing our students away in our own classrooms. Teachers must know their students believe they care in order for that perception of behavior to be valid.
In order to create this program, the voice of the students as well as the teachers must be heard. This guides me towards a philosophy of post-positivism in the form of interpretivism, because it focuses on human interest and their beliefs (Myers, 2008 and Peace, 2011). In the post-positivist era, research is driven not by absolute truths, but by an influence of beliefs, culture, and observation, albeit, a non-scientific approach (Myers, 2008).