I feel that education at the college level should provide students with the tools needed to think “outside the box.” For me teaching at the college level is like spreading out the pieces of a large puzzle which students are going to piece together into a whole. By encouraging students throughout the educational process and constructively challenging their outcomes I strive to build their reasoning, critical thinking skills and confidence as they work the puzzle pieces together.
College education is not a professor lecturing to students who then memorize the lecture and restated it on the exam. It is assisting the student to process the information in a way that does one or more of the following; brings the answer into clear focus, provides an opportunity to see an idea in a new light, finds a whole new answer, or brings new questions for further study and research.
In the disciplines I teach, which is religion and the humanities, I also want to support students in reaching their educational goals and encourage students to be lifelong learners in the Liberal Arts.
I practice several principles to make my Philosophy of Education a reality. The following are the principles I strive to use.
The first principle is to be prepared for each and every class period. I always tell my students that I expect them to be prepared for every class session and that they can expect this of me. I have everything that I need to present the course material for the class session ready to go. I know that all audio visual or on-line links have been tested and are working. I make it a point to come at least 15 minutes prior to the start of class so that I know the classroom is set up appropriately and will assist in the facilitation of the course material for that class session.
A second principle, and very much related to the first, is to know my subject matter. Even if I have taught the subject matter many times it is important to present the information in a fresh and relevant way that will capture the attention and imagination of the students. I review the content that needs to be presented to make it fresh in my mind and I look for any new or developing information I can add since the last time I taught the subject matter.
The third principle often correlates with the second. I take time to get to know my students. Not only to learn their names, which can be a challenge in large classes, but at least to hear the needs, expectations, and career goals which will assists me with how I will present the class information. I also try to take in consideration the students age and years in college, or whether they are a returning student after years of no school.
The fourth principle is to encourage students to participate. I immediately create the expectation that participation is a vital part of the class. From the first day when I review the course syllabus to inviting students to e-mail or even call me with ideas, questions or new observations that they have made. I make it a priority to answer or respond to them as quickly as possible. I welcome students questions even during lectures and I often call on students in class. When teaching an on-line course I make it a priority to participate in the forums and add links that may deepen the discussion. I enjoy and have students work in groups on exercises that involve discussion within the group and then together as a class.
The fifth principle is to make the material relevant to the student. I frequently use examples from my business background to show how pertinent the information can be for students in their careers. I also utilize current events to show how the course materials related to students’ everyday life.
The sixth principle is quality. Speaking from my marketing and public relations experience I endeavor to provide a quality product to students. They must receive what they are paying for which is a high quality education. To meet this obligation each of my classes has defined objectives and student outcomes and I am open to reexamine course content to make sure the objectives are being met. I am always open to implementing positive changes that will maintain and improve quality service to students, colleagues, and the university. I availed myself of continuing education, research and study opportunities that will keep me on the cutting edge of my disciplines. I also appreciate and welcome the evaluation from my students, colleagues, and administration.
The seventh principle is to have high standards that are both fair and challenging. Students should be expected to act responsibly, learn to be professional, and to meet high standards in the classroom. The teacher should be fair and consistent in all dealing with students. I insist that all students adhere to deadlines, deliver college level work, and conduct themselves professionally in their interactions with one another and with me. I always attempt to make my expectations clear both in written as well as verbal instructions, and to be fair and impartial in grading and interaction with students. It is also my desire to treat all students with respect.
The final and last principle is to have fun and joy in teaching. I think the best way to learn is to make the topic enjoyable and to create an environment in which students can have a good time while they learn. I therefore try to inject not only humor into my lectures and discussions but also make projects fun and enjoyable. The best thing in the world is when I make a connection with my students while teaching. When the light comes on and they see how to fit things together it releases an energy and power that is hard to describe. Much like when Lewis and Clark finally made it to the west coast and Clark wrote in his journal, “Ocean in view! O! The Joy!”
I'm busy working on my blog posts. Watch this space!