OK, here's the deal: I want you to be successful in my class. In order for that to occur you need to open your mind to some new ideas and concepts. This can only happen if you're willing to do your part. I promise you that I will do what ever is needed to provide you with all the tools to learn, but I need YOU to do the work that is assigned. Be forewarned, if you have some sense of entitlement; that you expect to get spectacular grades without doing the work, you will be very disappointed with the results. When I was a child I was told "success only comes before work in the dictionary," and I've found over the years these very pragmatic words to be quite true. Whether you learn this lesson now or at some later point in your life is something that, ultimately, you'll decide. I hope you choose the former rather than the later, but in either case I promise to do my utmost to see to it that you are getting the most from the course I can offer.
If you're experiencing issues and concerns about your particular course take the time to share your concerns with me. Either talk with me after class or send an email (firstname.lastname@example.org). I promise that I'll listen to your concerns and do my best to assist you in any way I can. I want you feel that my class offers a safe and nurturing environment, so please reach out to me if you feel you're on the fringes of the academic community.
My philosophy of teaching has evolved over the years. It is more than safe to say I'm not the same teacher I was when I first started. The one constant, however, over all those years is that being a teacher is not just what I do, it defines me as a person: it is who I am. As I reflect on my beliefs regarding teaching and learning, I find that my mission as a teacher is threefold:
To accomplish this, I enjoy applying a wide variety of strategies based on essential educational principles encompassing cognitive functioning, learning theory, diversity issues, instructional planning and assessment.
Cognitive functioning level(s) of the learner: Considering the cognitive functioning of learners is essential in order to implement and apply strategies that are appropriate for either concrete operational and/or formal operational learners. I routinely plan activities, such as brief writings, that can help me determine the cognitive levels of my students and tailor my instruction accordingly. Without this consideration, I would risk the possibility of my students experiencing "hit or miss" learning.
Learning theory: I have valued many years of opportunities to apply significant contributions from various learning theories. Behavioral theory offers many principles that, when used correctly, can benefit classroom learning and management at all levels. In concert with this, cognitive learning principles offer significant contributions from the state-of-the-art neurosciences, particularly in brain-based research regarding memory systems and active processing of intellectual operations. Think-pair-share, classroom jigsaw activities, constructive controversies, and interactive lectures are among are generally well received by students and provide an enriching classroom experience.
My major at Columbia University was American Studies with a concentration in Ethnicity and Race. As a result I am acutely aware of cultural diversity in my school in general and my classroom in particular. This paired with group culture and learning style has shaped my approach as an educator. Understanding both the learning style of individual learners and the cultural diversity of the class or group helps me both design and tailor effective instruction by implementing appropriate classroom strategies. Although a variety of learning styles are likely represented by learners in any large class or group setting, I routinely design my instruction using the research-based learning cycle; this cycle provides the framework for me to encompass a repertoire of effective strategies, which can both accommodate individual preferences, engage diverse learners, and help establish a respect for differing preferences and perspectives.
Curriculum and Instructional Planning: An essential consideration for teachers pertains to overall curriculum and instructional planning. Whether the instructional approach is based on a behavioral model (direct instruction, mastery learning), a cognitive model (exposition/presentation), or a constructivist model (inquiry-based/Socratic methods, cooperative learning), I plan and implement lessons that clearly identify the lesson objective, anticipatory set, strategies for effective student engagement, and assessment options to measure student mastery. This helps me teach with both clarity and focus.
Assessment: I strongly believe that one can employ numerous options to accurately assess understanding of course content among diverse groups of learners. To this end, I have developed (and continually use!) a firm foundation in assessment basics, from alternative types of assessment (rubrics, checklists, projects, portfolios, performance/diagnostic checks, presentations, etc.) to traditional exams/test construction. I am quite convinced that utilizing more than one pathway for students to achieve success in this manner and I feel I have the past results to support this claim.
Let me be clear: Being a teacher is not just what I do, it is who I am. Being a life-long learner and sharing my 'passion' for teaching and learning, and my ability to employe these principles with enthusiasm and empathy helps me connects with learners in a way that is not common in many schools. What is important to me and what I strive to do on a consistent basis is to teach with clarity, share my passion , empathy, and sincere enthusiasm. This behavior effectively impacts learners and will hopefully connect students to their 'passion' and to invite them too, to become lifelong learner.