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Teaching

Philosophy

"They may forget what you said but they will never forget how you made them feel"
- Carol Buckner

A Humanistic Approach

My teaching philosophy is grounded in humanism- the belief we each have a


responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of
humanity. Rooted in the belief that knowledge is constructed through interaction, and
ones personal experiences - I value, and strive to create a learning environment that
allows students the flexibility and freedom to self-discover and to think critically.

I use each class experience to share knowledge of the subject matter being discussed, and
as an opportunity to challenge students larger capacity of personal growth. In his
influential book, Toward a Theory of Instruction, Jerome Bruner suggests the purpose of
education is to stimulate inquiry and skill in the process of knowledge getting, not to
memorize a body of knowledge. He says, Knowledge is a process, not a product (1966,
p.72).

Knowledge is a Process, Not a Product

I ascribe to Bruners philosophy; I want students to grow beyond memorizing key terms
and concepts - where they think critically and construct their own systems of knowledge.
I seek to achieve positive student outcomes thru consideration of pedagogical differences
in student learning styles and their relevance in the design of instructional methods and
learning objectives. Class time is balanced with lectures as well as in-class activities and
peer workshops. Pre-class readings and research is assigned, and I regularly post
supplemental materials related to class topics to our course website. Careful consideration
is given to course assignments. If you engage students with creative assignments, it
fosters a sense of connectedness with classmates and creates a sense of learning
ownership. When students see their learning process as something they can own they
become more involved, and subsequently, learning outcomes are enhanced.

Classroom Diversity and Inclusion

Diversity and inclusion are more than just buzzwords. They are essential components in
finding personal and professional success. I encourage students to be creative, to express
their own ideas, and to appreciate the beauty in diversity. One learning outcome is aimed
at students recognition of the power of differences in solving problems.

I will not compromise in providing a safe learning environment for my students. I do so


by being clear and direct regarding student behavior and course expectations. Incivility,
disrespectful behavior, and intolerance towards other students is not tolerated. An
atmosphere that is conducive to positive, respectful learning is one in which both
instructors and students are involved in maintaining. In taking a sensible stance on
student misbehavior in terms of identifying it, responding to it, and doing so consistently,
students are clear in their understanding of what constitutes appropriate classroom
behavior.

A True Passion for Teaching

Students have a keen ability to sense a teachers genuine enthusiasm for both them and
the subject matter. Having a true passion for student development is a key element to my
previous success and continued growth as a teacher. I consistently receive high marks in
student evaluations for instructor engagement, with comments Rick made us feel like
he genuinely cared about us as people, and best class Ive had while in college. My
approach is simple:

1. I learn, and call every student by name


2. I facilitate an inclusive classroom where students create ownership of
learning outcomes
3. I listen to students concerns and praise
4. I modify content, approach, and structure when necessary
5. I practice constant self-reflection

Practicing Constant Self-Reflection

As a teacher, it is important to teach with a sense of humility. Good teaching comes from
years of trial and error. While I take pride in the results demonstrated in student
evaluations, I know the transformation of experiences is only possible in consideration of
constant self-reflection and a willingness to adapt, and to modify teaching strategies,
when necessary. I do so by utilizing student and department evaluations given at the end
of each semester. A few items reflected on:

Students knowledge outcomes


Skills outcomes
Attitudes and values outcomes
Behavioral outcomes
What activities worked well? Which didnt? and Why?
How can the learning environment be improved?

While learning outcomes are important, I strongly believe in Kolbs Experiential


Learning Theory and the idea that learning is best conceived as a process, not in terms of
outcomes. Giving students the flexibility to learn and grow in a safe environment allows
them to challenge predispositions regarding sometimes, long-held attitudes and
behaviors. By utilizing a holistic approach to learning, higher forms of thinking are
invoked with the students. They learn course concepts, but more importantly they learn to
be critical thinkers and adapt course material to the real world.