Community and Engagement: A Teaching Philosophy

 

My aim is to impart in my students new knowledge that they can apply outside the classroom. I create and maintain fun but captivating learning environments, the kind that I loved to experience as a student. In class, I continually work to cultivate an atmosphere where students are comfortable in expressing their ideas, opinions, and letting their voices be heard.

 

My short-term goal during a single semester with students is to get to know them as people, creating a personal atmosphere and earning their trust. I believe it is crucial for us to provide a humanized experience in contrast to how people are often treated like mere “units” in the corporate world. For example, before classes begin, I often play soft instrumental music and engage my students in casual conversation about current or upcoming events on campus or in town. I believe these simple exchanges are crucial to build rapport with them. During classes, I create a relaxed atmosphere through use of humor and spontaneous discussion, which we know is more engaging for students who would likely zone out during a rigid lecture. I incorporate fun, small group activities and media examples into my lessons that expand on assigned readings for the day. Additionally, I attempt to provide students with feedback on major assignments as quickly as possible such as by the very next class period, so that they can more quickly adapt and improve for successive assignments.

 

One of my broader goals in teaching is to assist my students in learning the material to the best of their abilities. I tell students that I am not concerned with them taking notes on their laptops, which I know several instructors resist due to concerns students procrastinate on social networking sites. I explain to my students whether they are serious about their education or not is up to them, because at the end of the semester their grades will ultimately reflect if they have been paying attention or not.

 

This ties into another one of my long-term goals, which is to encourage student involvement. My intention is that as the semester progresses, more of my students would begin leading class discussions. Instead of talking to my students, I would rather talk with my students. I know I can learn from my students as much as they can learn from me by sharing their own unique points of view. I am always proud to see my students begin to find their voices over the course of the semester and participate more in, if not begin to lead, class discussions.

 

I am dedicated to my students and am routinely proud of the work they accomplish. For the past seven years I have had the privilege to teach various classes in different subjects, and each class is uniquely rewarding because of the unique voices that compose their rosters. This is what makes the craft of teaching such a humbling, gratifying experience for me, and I am excited to continue cultivating such inclusive learning environments in my future in academia.