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My Teaching Philosophy

Without even realizing it, I began to formulate a teaching philosophy as a volunteer in my kid’s grade school classrooms and youth programs. I quickly learned to exude energy and excitement to my young audience, engaged them with lessons and hands-on activities, and provided endless encouragement to improve on mistakes and celebrate successes. I learned that all students can succeed when they are given clear foundational lessons and the room to grow through trial and error to a place of proficiency and confidence. These teaching lessons took on a much higher level of complexity when my audience became college-aged. I began to rely on more informed planning, personal reflection, and awareness of individual student needs. I also watched and learned from fellow instructors who I admired for their student engagement.


As I became comfortable as an instructor, I also saw the need to embrace change and regularly renew my focus on student outcomes. Depending on the classroom situation, this can look very different. Sometimes I teach collaboratively, working with other instructors to develop to an effective lesson plan. Often, I instruct classes by myself, using videos, group work, in-class activities, and more in order to draw the students into the lessons. I adapt my teaching style to accommodate online classes, small cohorts, and large groups. I take the experience that I learn from teaching hands-on labs and apply it to more traditional classroom settings. I get the students out of their seats to participate actively. They become part of the lesson and actively engage with the material. Importantly, this places the student at the center of the lesson and provides motivation to succeed. With all of these different instructional scenarios, there is a constant need to reflect on what is working for me as a teacher and, more importantly, how effectively my students are understanding the lessons and applying them to their own needs.


The core of my teaching style, no matter what the class looks like, is to present goals and objectives that let everyone know where the journey is going to lead them. I explain my clear expectations for participation and encourage my students to ask questions at any time. I focus on lessons that the students can directly apply to mastering a skill or that provide building blocks towards ultimately understanding the overall outcome of the class.


What this looks like in practical application can take on many forms. One example involves working towards a cumulative assignment for a mock job interview. I bring attention to it at the start of the semester because of the need for thought and preparation. I explain how progressive lessons will guide them towards success and work on identifying what is important for each student in their future professional career. The class prepares with lessons on audience analysis, document design, and public speaking. All these, and many other important steps, lead the class to a place where they feel confident in their ability to communicate clearly and effectively. The students are drawn in because they will all eventually need to sit down for a hiring process. By turning an academic exercise into an applicable, real-world situation, I boost class participation and speak to their needs of getting the job that they really want.


Ultimately, what drives me as a teacher is the excitement that I feel working with students of all backgrounds and influences. There is a joy in discovering what motivates them and what gets them to grow as scholars and people. I find that by creating an open and welcoming classroom setting, students learn to trust in themselves and express their needs and wishes. I provide them opportunities for personal, academic, and professional growth and often support students even after they have left my classroom. My teaching experience has profoundly and positively affected my life. I want to challenge myself to grow as an instructor and mentor by taking on new opportunities, exploring trends for instruction, and being open to change and innovations.

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