Beyond the objectives and outcomes of any given course, my goals as an educator are for my students to be able to think critically for themselves; efficiently communicate in a variety of modalities (written, visual, and oral); and gain confidence in their continued ability to learn new skills. These are fundamental competencies that, in addition to a program’s academic content, create marketable and skilled professionals, and hopefully engaged critical citizens.
There are three main elements to my philosophy of teaching. The first is to provide multiple approaches to new concepts, as students learn differently. Education is not one size fits all. This means alongside traditional lectures, discussions, and readings, I provide students with films and hands-on activities like simulations and case studies. Second, I believe in the Socratic method of education, which provides guiding questions to students, so that students learn not only content but, also problem-solving. Finally, I believe that learning should be fun. If I am not enthusiastic about the topic, then why would my students be interested? To that end, I believe in using educational games to engage students in competitive and collaborative learning, especially regarding review sessions and “sticky” points.
We learn more content, and more deeply when we are actively engaged in course concepts and activities. It is my job to provide an educational environment to which my students can relate. To do this, I often bring in popular culture as examples, or active elements in course assignments such as debates, pair-and-share, and group projects. Since I generally do not share the same taste as my students, I start each semester with a survey on television, music, movies, and social media that help me find trends to utilize in class content. By starting with a media text that students are already interested in, it is that much easier to garner student rapport, engagement, and investment.
My course design always provides scaffolding for deeper goals like communication and critical thinking skills. Students must build up to broader goals, and so I believe in utilizing smaller stepping-stones that lead up to more substantial high-stakes assessments. Additionally, I believe in learning from our mistakes. Therefore, I include a revision policy, which allows students to revise and resubmit any written assignment that they feel they can do better on. This enables students who are committed to the learning process to have immediate results and reinforcement, instead of only abstractly carrying feedback forward for potential future use, which, if students are too discouraged, may never come. In the end, my goal is to provide a teaching style and method that is learner focused, interactive, and hands on.