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As a teacher, it is my job to stimulate and encourage thinking rather than to provide answers and resolve problems. It is my obligation to give students professional competency, energy, demand of excellence,
and fair treatment. It is my job to touch lives and challenge them to learn how to use their inherent capabilities and their knowledge base to resolve problems for themselves. To do this, I have to ask questions they must work hard to answer. The great pay off in that is when they ask questions I must work hard to answer.
Teaching is a process of instilling the concepts and necessary skills for life-long learning, in addition to team participation, with an individual. The student will ultimately leave the protective environment of the 'educational system' to enter society as, hopefully, a contributing entity. When this occurs, it is vitally important to have the ability to 'teach one's self' and effectively collaborate with others, in order to manage and process the problems and issues that are presented during life. I believe this is necessary for the continued growth of humanity.
As a teacher, my goal is to share this process, focusing on subject matter in my area of expertise, using current teaching tools available. I strive to personally model this using my professional experience in the real world, often incorporating current projects as they are presented to me, and continuously seek new methods of processing and presentation. My lesson plan allows flexibility for this spontaneous discovery as well as directives toward specific goals. I present students the fundamentals of the subject, real world examples, and a collaborative forum for discussing options to deal with these issues and why. From this, the student will experience a 'hands-on' practical application of the learning process, and, as a teacher and professional in my field, I have the opportunity to gain new insight based on individual student needs and collaboration with colleagues.
My emphasis in teaching is on learning. My teaching goal is to facilitate learning (helping students learn) and I believe that teaching plays a major role in that. Learning is primarily the student's responsibility, whereas teaching is my responsibility. My emphasis is on helping the student to learn, rather than just dispensing my knowledge to them. I am there to "light their candle," not just "fill their bucket."
I believe that effective teaching is comprised of two necessary and related elements: knowledge of the content and ability to communicate it. Knowing the material is not enough to be effective in teaching it; likewise, communication skills won't work alone. Thus, I take care to understand the concepts I expect to cover and to make them understandable to the students. I organize my presentations with the student's learning in mind and keep my knowledge up to date. I also emphasize the importance of communication by using humor and a variety in teaching techniques to make learning enjoyable so as to motivate the students to learn.
I follow these principles in teaching: being enthusiastic for each class and letting it show; learning about the students in the course; organizing each class well; using a presentation style that maximizes student interest; and using a variety of teaching methods to present the material. I use humor in my presentations to spark student interest and make my presentations engaging. I vary my teaching techniques in class (cases, discussion groups, lecture, etc.). I extensively utilize PowerPoint software and all elements of multimedia (documents, music CDs, videos, web sites, etc). Through the use of my Voluntary Student I.D. forms for graduate students, I find out about my students so I can relate to them personally in class and focus the course on their needs and background. These forms are also used to structure the students into class teams. I keep these forms on file so I can be available to the students as a reference.
Philosophy of Teaching andÂ Learning
How students learn
I believe that all students can learn, but how they learn largely depends on their prior knowledge, the method of instruction with which they learn most successfully, and their attitude toward learning.
Connection of teaching and learning
In learning about instructional strategies used in practice, I have come to realize that quality instruction comes from teachers who are motivated to teach, and who can motivate their students to want to learn. Both motivation and appropriate instructional strategies must be in place in order to have a successful teaching and learning environment. According to Linda Lumsden and her work on student motivation to learn, "Motivation to learn is a competence acquired through general experience but stimulated most directly through modeling, communication of expectations, and direct instruction or socialization by significant others (especially parents and teachers)" (1994). However, in order to achieve these states of energy and well-being, both teachers and students must understand that teaching and learning is reciprocal. In order to be a successful teacher, both students and teachers must work together to create a positive attitude toward learning. To foster such a willingness to learn, I must find out what my students know (their prior knowledge) and begin teaching from that point. Starting with something a student knows will help ease them into new learning experiences. If I find that I am teaching in a way with which I feel comfortable, but one from which only a portion of students are learning, I will know that I have lost my students, and I will refocus my energy and mind on why I am in the classroom: to assure that my students are motivated to learn, and that I am maintaining my motivation to teach. In coming from an education where my elementary school teachers were largely responsible for motivating me to be a top student, I feel ultimately responsible for my students' motivation to learn and to be a good student.
My philosophy of teaching can better be described as a philosophy of learning. In order to be an effective instructor, I must focus on student learning and adjust my teaching strategies in response to the pace and depth of student understanding. I view teaching as an interaction between an instructor and a student; thus, the impact of this interaction on learning, rather than my activities as an instructor, is of primary importance.
Reflecting upon the dynamic interaction between pedagogy and personality, my teaching style is best described as applied, mastery instruction. While the specific learning goals of a course are dependent upon the nature of the course, the education level of the students, the purpose of the course within the department, and the relationship between the course and related courses, I have three overarching goals for any course that I teach:
to foster critical thinking so that students may become effective consumers of psychological information,
to promote mastery of course content, and
to encourage application of course materials to real-world contexts.