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Shawn Dennis Lee
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Teaching Philosophy

  I believe

Teachers should act professionally and responsible with proper conduct both in and away from the classroom.

Teachers should motivate and challenge their students attempting to establish a high amount of work ethic in the classroom.

Teachers should create an atmosphere that allows for honesty, trust, and respect to be applied openly.

Respect is earned by the individual, not handed out or given.

Teachers should create a sense of purpose that leads their students into learning.

Teachers should create an enthusiastic environment that becomes infectious with students wanting to participate including feedback as well as constructive criticism.

Teachers must involve students, parents, staff, and members of the community to have influence on what is taught in the classroom.

That students learn in many ways and it is the job of the teacher to provide them with creative, innovative and motivating varieties of teaching methods.

That a teacher’s philosophy is ongoing and growing…


“Education has come a long way since its early history.  As teachers, the charge today is to motivate students to improve their own status through positive self-direction.” – Unknown

            I came across this statement a while back and it has always stuck with me.  I believe that it represents part of the foundation of my philosophy or philosophies, because I believe that we all possess more than one, or perhaps a variety of constructs that make up our own philosophy.  This quote stays with me because I believe it touches on where we’ve been and where we’re going in the domain of education.  It represents a mission for me as a future educator, paving a path forward for my students and individuals.

            In providing this path for students to follow, there are many characteristics that are needed to be a leader.  Getting back to my quotation, the need for motivation is one of the most important factors.  Some students will want to move forward, some will want to stay behind, but it is my job to create a motivational atmosphere for all students that will give them an infectious feeling to want to learn.  To do this, I must have credibility.  This goes beyond having knowledge of particular subjects and extends to myself as an individual.  It’s imperative that teachers conduct themselves professionally both inside and outside the classroom in order to gain the respect of their students.  Respect is not given it is earned.  Acting in such a manner will set the tone for establishing credibility as a leader for my students.

“The best way to make your dreams come true is to wake up.” – Paul Valery


            Students learn in many different ways.  This is why it is important to have a continually growing and learning teaching philosophy.  As an educator, I may find some things will work in the classroom while others may fail.  Learning is a two way street and it is important for myself as a teacher to be aware of this.  This is why I believe teachers must involve their students to find out what styles of learning they possess as well as what motivates them to learn.  This goes beyond the students to other faculty, to the parents and the surrounding community.  Keeping an open mind for various teaching methods creates a classroom with no boundaries.  Along with the idea of no boundaries, comes the need for creativity and innovation .  I believe it’s important to come up with new and exciting strategies in order to reach aspiring young minds.  This has few limits…it can be as small as adjusting a particular lesson or go as far as completely reformatting the class itself.  It ties back into having an ongoing and learning philosophy, but requires one to keep an open mind and eyes that see beyond the horizon.

“It is only with the heart that one can see rightly: what is essential is invisible to the eye.” – Antoine De Saint-Exupery


            I feel it is important to believe in what I am teaching.  This belief is in fact the very foundation that I speak about regarding previous elements of my philosophy.  Without it, each other aspect cannot be held up – motivation, creativity, character and respect all fall unless this belief holds them up.  Students who see an instructor who has passion and belief in what he or she is teaching will be motivated to learn if they have respect for that individual.  This earns the teacher credibility as a leader.  But this extends to the students as well.  It is my job to get them to believe in what they are doing and what they are learning.  I will provide forms of feedback that will keep them on track both positively as well as constructively.  Making them feel comfortable with their method of learning will help create a positive learning environment for the individual.

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” – Ursula K. LeGuin


            There are a thousand and one ways to teach students in the classroom.  There are multiple ways of learning and understanding.  Philosophies of teachers vary and it’s likely just as individuals, no two are exactly the same.  I can go on and on about what I believe in, or how my philosophy will learn, grow and change over time, but the learning environment moves beyond what we teach.  I believe it is my job to be more than a teacher, and to simply be human in the classroom.  I believe that I need to be down to earth and that I must understand my students.  In fact, I would put understanding my students in my top two things of importance.  Understanding that “life happens” is also very important.  Try as we may to predict how and why life unfolds, as teachers and leaders we have to understand that life is at times very unpredictable and must be willing to have the flexibility to correspond to its changes.  Being human involves a sense of humor and being in tune with reality and what’s going on in the world.  I also believe it’s important to add the social factor in the learning environment.  This includes allowing students to interact with one another as well as with the instructor.  We are social beings and we must involve others into our ongoing, changing and learning philosophy.                                                                            

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Coaching Philosophy

            At this point in time, my coaching philosophy is based on the “Double-I-P System” (I-I-P).  This is just a catchy name I’ve invented to sum up the three major points that make up my philosophy.  Before I begin, I would like to point out that I’m a believer in the idea that a coach’s philosophy changes over time.  I think most coaches have a base or backbone to their philosophy, but it’s something that adapts to situations and evolves over a coaching career.

Based on my experiences so far and my current beliefs, my philosophy is based on three elements—Intensity, Integrity and Pride.  To begin with, I believe intensity is a very important factor.  It’s necessary to have a killer instinct and energetic drive that’s willing to mean business and get the job done and then some.  I learned “killer instinct” from my former basketball coach and teammates.  During a game of one on one, I played one of my teammates from inner city Detroit for a PowerAde.  He taught me that I had to be mentally and physically stronger than my opponent and that I had to have a killer instinct to absolutely put everything I had into beating my opponent—kind of a the strongest survives theme.  This is something I’ve never forgotten and truly believe in.

My next element is integrity.  Included in integrity, I feel my players have to have some sort of class or old school sportsmanship similar to the likes of Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird or Coach K.  You have to have the killer instinct to do whatever it takes to win, but do it with a degree of class and style that earns you respect of your teammates, your opponents, the fans and anyone involved in the game.  With integrity, I also include intelligence.  It’s important to make the right decisions at all times, both on the court and off, in the classroom and in the game of life.  As individuals we don’t always make the right decisions, but what’s important is that we try to and do whatever it takes to help build that intelligence for ourselves and for the team.

Lastly, there’s pride.  You can have the first two pieces of the puzzle, but without pride, you have nothing.  Pride is the foundation that holds up the other two.  If you’re smart enough to make the right decisions but don’t care or aren’t worried about letting others down, you’re useless to the team and to yourself.  Pride is a form of each individual’s own philosophy that is part of their make up as a player and as a person.  Pride also includes passion, or love of the game; desire, to set goals and achieve them; and camaraderie, the love, respect and relationship of one to others.  These three ideas and their elements combined set a great foundation of philosophy to achieve success and happiness, not only in the game of basketball, but in the game of life through the eyes of Coach Lee. 

Coach’s Pledge

            The purpose of the above philosophy is to extend the learning and educational experience to areas outside of the classroom allowing for maturity and gaining of knowledge through sport and competitive experience.  As a coach, I promise to foster a learning atmosphere based on:

Acting professionally and responsible with proper conduct both during and away from athletics

Attempting to establish a high amount of work ethic both in athletics and in the classroom

Possessing sportsmanlike attitude that earns and shows respect for oneself and for others

Carrying oneself with a degree of responsibility and pride that is created by a combination of the above traits and characteristics



Communication and knowing and understanding the people in which I work with

Making good and sound decisions and choices both on and off the court

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Health Education Philosophy

"Health education has come a long way since its early history.  As teachers, the charge today is to motivate students to improve their own health status through positive self-direction.  Health education offers students an opportunity for personal growth and enhancement that is not duplicated anywhere else in the school curriculum."

            I came across this statement during my reading regarding the evolution of health education.  To me, it stuck in my mind as briefly touching on where we’ve been and where we’re going in the domain of health education.  I like it because I feel it represents a mission for us as future health educators in our task for paving a path of healthy lifestyles for students and individuals.

            Shirreffs (1982) defines health as a “quality of life, involving social, mental, and biological fitness on the part of the individual, which results from adaptations to the environment.”  When asked to come up with a definition of my own, based on my current knowledge and input from my classmates, I define health as the quality of one’s life based on a number of personal elements and living life to the best of one’s ability and greatest potential.  These elements include self-esteem, spiritual and emotional awareness, social interaction, physical awareness, quality of life, behavior and attitude, nourishment, fitness, and the mind and soul.  I believe that it is important to be aware of each of these elements and balance them in ways that are positive and release an individual’s potential.  In that respect, it is the duty of the individual to do what is necessary to enhance and improve each of these elements in a positive manner that contributes to his or her well-being.

            Similar to the elements I learned in class lecture, a physician by the name of Dunn (1991) produced a definition and conceptualization of health referring to it as wellness and implied that there are several components.  These components include spiritual, social, emotional, intellectual and physical domains.  If I were to build or set an infrastructure for my philosophy, these would be the key components that I would use.   My reason for applying these components to my philosophy is that each of these domains represents an important factor in an individual’s personal health.  Broken down, aspects of these domains include the following: a belief system, which is based on morals, ethics, values and a sense of purpose; social interaction with others and respect; stress management along with recognition and understanding of feelings; continued growth and learning with application of knowledge as it is gained; and maintaining a positive physical well being (i.e. nutrition, fitness, no drug abuse).

            I believe that personal health and health education are an ongoing process that we continue to learn from and adapt to during our lives.  At any given time we may need to change our lifestyles based on what happens to us.  For example, if I were in a car accident and lost one of my legs, obviously there would be a need for changes.  I could elaborate on this in many directions, but the point that needs to be understood is that there is a continuing and ongoing change to managing our health.

            There are several levels of health education.  It begins at the personal level of the individual and includes their own individual philosophy combined with what they know and how they take care of themselves.  From there, it goes to areas from which we learn it from, including but not limited to the classroom, clubs, organizations and various institutions.  At these levels, we all learn other aspects of health and apply various parts of them to our own philosophies and make up.  For example, I could be someone who isn’t into healthy eating or exercise, but following a lecture at a YMCA health symposium, my eyes may be opened to newer and better methods of managing my own individual health.  This is just one possible means for learning more and applying new elements to one’s health philosophy.

Many of these sources of learning follow standards of health that are created from even higher levels of hierarchy in the health field, not only at the local and state level, but the national level as well.  AAHPERD (American Association for Health, Physical Education, Recreation & Dance) is one of the better-known organizations that perform research and education from which we learn and study health.   At the highest level, we can find the National Health Education Standards.  They are connected to the classroom and to organizations because they provide standards for creating a positive and healthy lifestyle.  They act as a structure and guide for the components that make up a healthy living.

“National Health Education Standards improve student learning across the nation by providing a foundation for curriculum development, instruction, and assessment of student performance. The goal of National Health Education Standards is improved educational achievement for students and improved health in the United States .”

            These standards set the boundaries for us as health education instructors for leading our students and individuals we work with in the right direction.  By use of these standards, it is our job to motivate each individual and translate each standard and attempt to incorporate learning both inside and outside the classroom.  Things such as promotion of health, disease prevention, health information, health risk reduction, goal setting and decision-making are the major fibers of what it is we must teach.  There is nearly an unlimited amount of resources available to health professionals and individuals we teach to help grasp an understanding on the need for health education and what it stands for.  They include thousands of sources via the Internet; organizations and associations (including local, state and national); private organizations such as health and fitness centers, weight loss centers and more; and finally, the classroom, including all levels of schooling from kindergarten through college level learning.  Each of these resources provides means for understanding, learning and managing personal health.  One great website for teachers is PE Central (  This site, like many others like it, offers information and instruments to promote health education.  These instruments range from equipment, newsletters, stores and lesson plans and is only one of a nearly limitless amount of sources on the Web.  Sources such as this one will provide me the opportunity to research for materials, information, ideas, links, activities and more that I will be able to not only apply to my own individual health philosophy, but also to my classroom and teaching of others.  I don’t believe there is any one real correct philosophy, resource for learning, or methodology for teaching it.  Therefore, use of outside resources such as this one will allow me to take and apply ideas to my classroom and to instructing others. 

Ultimately, it is up to the individual to make decisions regarding their own personal health, but it is my job to properly inform, educate and motivate individuals to want to do so.  Without a proper understanding of health and health education and their purpose, there are minimal opportunities for success.  It’s an ongoing learning process for which we as instructors are vehicles for higher learning.  With that in mind, I will try to create an atmosphere for learning that is fun, innovative, cooperative, communicative and open-minded.  Like I’ve stated, I don’t believe there is any one right way to do things.  It is an ongoing and changing process.  My classroom will be one that informs, not only through lecture, but also from getting information from those being taught.  If it’s about their health, then instruction should be based about information and topics important to the learner.  This can be done through open-ended questioning, class discussion and activities that get students thinking and involved.  By no means to I intend to walk in a classroom and simply feed my students information and then ask them questions about what they’ve learned.  By providing a learning atmosphere that breeds respect and fun, I believe that I will have a jump start on educating my students about health.  The path will be provided with open lines of communication and an understanding of who they are.


Anspaugh, D. and Ezell, G. Teaching Today’s Health. Boston : Allyn & Bacon, 1998.

Greenberg, J. Health Education: Learner-Centered Instructional Strategies. Boston :      WCB/McGraw-Hill, 1998.

Hebert, Fred. Health Education 340, Lecture, Materials and Class Notes.

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This site was last updated 04/04/03