“That is what learning is. You suddenly understand something you’ve understood all your life, but in a new way.”
– Doris Lessing
My teaching style is a direct reflection of the Lessing quote above. Over the years as I’ve progressed through my teaching career I’ve learned one simple thing: We are all here to learn. You will learn from me, I will learn from you, and we will learn from one another. As an instructor it is both my goal and my intention that students will take what they learn from their semester with me and apply it to multiple facets of their lives. My role as an instructor is more as a facilitator rather than lecturer. My promise to my students is that that if they genuinely but effort into the course, they’ll grow as both a student and an individual. My philosophy falls along the lines of the acronym “REAL.”
They say that respect is earned not given, but can you imagine the world we would live in if every person respected one another until they no longer deserved that respect? Within my classroom and office, it is imperative that respect is a foundation of any and all interactions regardless of any discrepancy or differing opinions expressed. I encourage my students to speak on topics that they are curious about, passionate about, or have some sort of interest in. This freedom is sometimes used unwisely, and as an instructor it is my job to make sure that they are both appropriate and respectful to its audience.
Ethics is something that is often undervalued in a variety of different fields. Incorporating ethics into assignments can students realize its importance and implications in the “real world.” I do not take plagiarism lightly and emphasize its dangers in and out of the classroom. I often use problem-based learning as a tool to help students identify unethical behavior and its impact.
I think it’s important for students to understand that I am not out to get them, that I want and am willing to help them succeed and do my best to cater to a variety of different learning styles. There is nothing to gain from seeing another individual not succeed. It is my job to encourage, advise, and support each of my students but it is my hope that they will each take it upon themselves to do the same. What I mean by this is that it is not my responsibility to hold someone’s hand when they’re not contributing to the course, but to encourage them to share their ideas. I hope to lift one another up instead of tearing one another down.
Who wants to sit through another class where the professor is in the front, talking monotonously day after day? I know I don’t! I do my best to keep things interesting by using relevant topics and technologies. One of my favorite things to do is to listen to people talk about things they’re passionate about. My courses are designed specifically to allow this open expression. Many of the projects and papers my students do can be applied to a wide range of topics, hobbies, and interests. I’m hoping to break the trend of the sometimes traditional, boring, quiet class and actually engage with one another on topics they enjoy talking about.
I promise to keep it REAL with my students and incorporate this acronym into my teaching style, my syllabus and my assignments.