TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

  • I believe that learning is a difficult task and students who are willing to put forth the effort to learn the material will do so. The way an instructor approaches his or her teaching responsibilities will have a profound impact on the learning process. If a teacher makes the material covered in a course interesting, their students are more likely to retain the information presented. 

    It is my responsibility to open the path to success for all my students in all my courses. In order to fulfill this responsibility, I make myself fully available to my students. My availability may appear in the form of responding to students’ questions as quickly as possible that usually includes midnight and weekends, meeting with students to discuss questions or projects during spring break. My commitment to students’ success is also reflected in my practice of having students improve their work and resubmit for re-evaluation. Many times I grade student assignments twice just for the sake of improving my students’ learning or encourage students to submit early drafts of their work for feedback. 

    Whether online or face-to-face, teaching is an interpersonal endeavor and should be treated as such. I view my students as persons rather than just students. Therefore, I show interest in their daily lives and share simple things about my daily life. Students connect with their professors when they are treated as people and when the professor presents himself as a person beyond the classroom. When it is time for one of my student's birthday, I enjoy wishing him/her a happy birthday and they certainly appreciate the personal attention. Another example is that if one of my students is sick, I make sure that I ask about the student’s health the next time I see him/her. I believe that establishing a personal connection with students through recognition of teaching as an interpersonal endeavor helps carry the message that the instructor cares about them and their overall well-being. It also conveys the message that the instructor holds high expectations for their success. 

    I do not subscribe myself to one specific school of thought in teaching. There is a time and place for all teaching methods. Depending on the needs and the characteristics of the learners and the nature of the content being studied, I use methods ranging from the most traditional ones to the most interactive and constructivist ones.  As a teacher educator, I try to communicate this principle to my students in all my courses. An instructor must keep an open mind about the value of different teaching strategies and avoid using a limited set of methods because of a certain philosophy they believe in. The variety in my teaching methods comes with a great deal of modeling. Because I am a professor of education, I have to teach how to teach. Therefore, when I teach about effective teacher characteristics or teaching methods, I demonstrate these characteristics to facilitate student understanding. For example, the day I teach cooperative learning as an instructional method, I always have a sample of cooperative learning activities for my students to participate in and experience the method from the student's point of view. Using a variety of teaching methods has been recognized in the education literature as an effective teacher characteristic and I certainly uphold this recognition.  

    I strongly believe in professional development. One cannot be an effective teacher if one is not willing to grow according to the developments in the art and science of teaching and the changing nature of students. Regardless of how many years of teaching experience I have, I always believe that there is a necessity for improvement. Time changes, curriculum changes, methods, and techniques change, and technology changes. In order to keep up with the changes and learn new information, I try to keep myself updated. In order to accomplish this, I attend professional conferences and attend sessions that focus on issues related to teaching. Every year, I participate in AERA and SITE conferences which are the major conferences for Teacher Education. I also do studies within my classes to see if the changes I make to the courses are positively affecting student learning and course satisfaction. You will see detailed information about my research related to teaching in the following sections. Moreover, I also seek expertise from my colleagues at the university. I ask questions and I ask if I can observe their classes/teaching. Through different means, I see myself on a life-long journey of professional development. I believe that one can gain experience teaching year after year, but one cannot become an experienced teacher unless s/he is willing to develop professionally.

    I always make careful preparation for my teaching and respect my students. I believe and hope that most of my students remember our courses as meaningful and useful ones. Therefore I accept all comments from students seriously and accept their evaluation carefully. Students' evaluation for my teaching is a good source to check my overall teaching performance. I have learned from my shortcoming and improved my teaching skills from their comments and evaluations.