My teaching philosophy is to impart my students with new knowledge that they can find applicable outside of the classroom. I also want my students to understand that I care about them and want to see them succeed, both inside and outside of the classroom. As an instructor I strive to emphasize the fun but captivating learning environment that I loved to experience as a student.
My short-term goal during a semester is to always get to know my students as people, creating a personal atmosphere and earning their trust. Before classes begin, I often play classic rock music (with appropriate lyrics) and engage my students in casual conversation about current or upcoming events on campus or in town. Such exchanges build rapport and are integral in building a bridge to students. During classes, I employ a lighthearted approach with the use of gentle humor, which I strongly believe is more engaging for students who would otherwise zone out during a colder, more rigid lecture. Although I will never underscore the importance of following the academic schedule, I strongly believe that students can learn through more interesting and engaging ways than simply listening to lectures. As a result, I attempt to incorporate fun, small group activities and media examples into my lessons that expand on the textbook’s material. Additionally, I attempt to provide students with feedback as quickly as possible so that they can more quickly adapt and improve for successive assignments.
One of my long-term goals during teaching is to assist my students in achieving the best grade possible within their abilities. At the beginning of each semester I inform students that I am not highly concerned with them taking notes on their laptops, which I know several instructors resist due to concerns the students will procrastinate on social networking sites such as Facebook. 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 when teaching, 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 strongly believe that 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. In class, I continually work to cultivate an environment where students are comfortable in expressing their ideas, opinions, and letting their voices be heard.
These are the beliefs and values that form my identity as a teacher. I am dedicated to my students and am routinely proud of the work they accomplish. For the past six 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.