Teaching Philosophy

Clayton R. Wright, PhD crwr77@gmail.com

My teaching philosophy is derived from teaching a variety of subjects at the secondary and postsecondary levels as well as presenting workshops of varying lengths to international educators in more than ten countries. Regardless of whom I have taught, my teaching is based on the beliefs outlined below. Education is a right of every individual. Everyone should have the opportunity to discover and develop his or her potential. One of the primary goals of education should be to encourage students to become self-reliant, life-long learners. Students must learn how to learn and to examine critically the information and experiences they encounter. Instructors are responsible for creating a safe, nurturing, and positive learning environment. At the beginning of any learning activity, it is important to assess students’ attributes, experiences, and needs. Based on this information, instructors can plan learning materials and activities that offer students opportunities to explore the subject matter, raise questions, take risks, express ideas, defend different points of view, propose solutions to problems, and evaluate possibilities or outcomes. In all situations, instructors must respect students’ points of view and be careful of placing them in situations which may cause serious mental and/or physical harm. Effective instruction enables students to actively participate and critically assess themselves and their environments. Thus, they must be presented with material and problems that require them to draw from their experiences and generate alternative responses to situations they may encounter. They should be inspired to "push the envelope" by testing and extending the knowledge within their chosen field of endaevour. If possible, the subject matter should be linked to their personal experiences. Ideally, they should learn not only how to help themselves, but how to help others. Learners can be actively engaged in finding, analyzing, and presenting information in an individualistic or collaborative manner. The instructor must provide a variety of learning activities that address students’ attributes and interests. People learn in different ways and have different expectations about the teaching/learning process. Although problem-based learning or self-study methods are ideal in many situations, the instructor must also incorporate other instructional strategies or delivery modes such as discussions, simulations, student presentations, web-based activities, and blended learning. Current educational literature seems to focus on collaboration, networking, and developing communities of practice, but some students prefer to learn independently or to receive information directly from an expert. Instructors must recognize that students may not know what they need or want until they are exposed to it. Students must be introduced to information and situations that lie beyond their immediate surroundings. The ideal learning environment should be a challenging one that is a catalyst for reflection and creative thinking. Teaching is a science as well as an art. There is no one correct way to teach, but instructors will be more successful if they have expertise in the subject matter that they teach; are enthusiastic about the material; value inquiry; are sensitive to the needs of students; treat students with respect; relate the material to students’ current and future lives; ask probing questions; provide timely, constructive, and positive guidance and feedback; set high but achievable standards; and give students a fair and accurate assessment of their abilities. At times, the instructor must be a facilitator, coach, or mentor; at other times, the instructor must be an expert and a leader.

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