Teaching Philosophy

service newThere are many ways to approach a description of one’s teaching philosophy.  Rather than tell it, I prefer to show it by summarizing my Teaching Philosophy through the words of my students.

“You are not content being complacent or mediocre as a professor; you are constantly trying to improve yourself, which inspires us to do so.”

My goals for myself are the same as those for my students: to continue to learn, to improve myself, my teaching and my community, and to do all of this through an academic position at a college or university with which I will fall in love.

“She makes her students desire to try hard.”

I used to strive to improve my performance as a good and popular teacher; now I strive to improve students’ performance as good and enthusiastic learners. One of my goals for my students is to help them better identify what their learning needs and desires are.  What do they hope to gain from their education?  Where do they hope their education will take them?  And how do they plan to get from here to there?

I find that some students have never pondered these questions, because no one has ever bothered to ask them.  By helping students assess their learning goals early in the semester, or early in an advising/mentoring relationship, I can begin to work with students to help them create a learning and career plan of action. I want my students to learn and to continue improving themselves, their work and their communities.

“She was very willing to help people who didn’t understand something, and she went slowly so we could learn the information well.”

Students come from different places—different geographic backgrounds, family circumstances, educational paths and diverse experiences—from which they establish their beliefs, attitudes and values.  These differences determine how each of them learns, understands and applies new knowledge to their lives. Incorporating varied teaching techniques helps meet the diverse learning needs of students. Repetition, also, is important for most students; reviewing and exploring course material in different ways helps many students understand, remember and internalize the concepts.

“She did a great job of letting us know where we stood throughout the semester and was very friendly and approachable.”

Students today demand instant access and feedback; tools such as online classrooms and email help me keep up with their questions and needs, and, overall, it improves the level of communication we are able to have with one another outside the classroom.  I, also, make it a point to provide status reports throughout the semester to let students know how they are progressing. Constant and varied forms of communication with students help them stay on top of their busy semester plan and to address areas that need attention.

“You’re a very fair grader and understand that life is bigger than school sometimes.”

Students need to be held accountable, but they also need to be understood.  While I maintain and communicate serious learning and performance expectations to my students, it is always tempered with empathy and reasonable flexibility.  This includes understanding the multiple constraints that students face, as well as personal issues that may impact them and their studies during the semester.

As an instructor, I come into contact with many of the youngest students, and my interaction with them may make the world of difference in their academic achievement and life choices.  This is a consideration I take seriously and will continue to cherish throughout my teaching.

Humor.

I make it a point early in the semester to get the class laughing and, even, making fun of ourselves.  This creates a level playing field of self esteem and builds a foundation from which to develop and strengthen relationships.

Beth is a good instructor because she carefully chooses the course curriculum by considering what would most benefit her students. 

Every teaching example in my classes—every exercise, assignment and exam—asks students to apply the key concepts from the course to their own life, either personal or professional, depending on the concepts being studied. Whatever students are studying in my classes, there’s opportunity for them to make it their own in a way that challenges them to broaden their experiences and understanding of the concepts.

Mrs. Eschenfelder is a great speaker, herself, and I picked up some ideas and pointers on speaking and feeling comfortable, just by watching and listening to her.

Students expect their instructors to walk the walk.  My prior management experience is important, in this regard, as it helps demonstrate application of course concepts to real world experiences that I have had and which students will have in their future career and life experiences.