Below are my thoughts and beliefs about teaching. This philosophy will always be a work in progress and will continue to grow and expand as I gain more knowledge and teaching experience.
My pedagogical stance has greatly been influenced and shaped by my mentors. Not only have they aided in my intellectual development as a graduate student, but also set excellent examples of what teachers should be. Their devotion to students and their profession is inspiring. Each mentor has individually contributed to my understanding and desire to become a professor. However, collectively, they have instilled in me the importance of details. Each detail works together and influences the overall structure of the course. From the foundation of the course (a strong curriculum with support systems) to the welcoming atmosphere of the classroom, my mentors have set a high standard to the quality of education I would like to provide to future generations of students.
Walk into any college classroom and you will see diversity – variations in students’ knowledge, abilities, experiences, physical characteristics, motivations, etc. As a teacher, it is important to embrace these differences and foster growth in many different aspects of a student’s life. One way I embrace diversity is to engage in meaningful conversations with students. This allows me to build connections with students, to cultivate an inviting and engaging atmosphere, and to make students comfortable with taking risks in their learning. Since students have a wide range of abilities, I provide content in a variety of contexts. For example, content in my classes is delivered through journal articles, supplemental readings, lectures, discussions, hands-on learning, feedback, and support. Students also have the opportunity to increase their motivation by choosing particular aspects of some assignments. For example, students are provided the freedom to choose which behaviors to observe, which recording procedures to use, which articles to review, and which application area they would like to explore in their final paper. When I provide students with the opportunity to choose, within certain guidelines, it provides a sense of ownership of their learning.
Traditionally, learning takes place in the classroom. But in today’s standards, learning should occur beyond the classroom. It is not enough to spend a class period engaged in the material. Students need repeated exposure to material and the opportunity to apply what they have learned in the classroom to relevant life scenarios. My classes are designed to briefly introduce students to a particular topic and to allow several opportunities for practice. In class, students are actively engaged in increasingly more complex material and are provided feedback along the way. Outside of class, students are to work together on assignments that reflect more natural environments. Engaging with the material both inside and outside of class, students are able to build necessary skills gradually and be successful at implementing measurement techniques in a variety of environments.
Learning is never actually complete. Even as a teacher, my teaching is frequently changing based on what I have learned – it is evolving. My participation in conferences, workshops, and training programs influence some of the techniques I use in my classes. New discoveries and research in the field of behavior analysis influence the content I include in my classes. Students even change the way I teach based on feedback I receive from them. I regularly evaluate my performance identifying strengths and weaknesses. Additionally, I reflect in what ways I could do better in the future. This not only goes for me, but for my students too. Several class assignments include a self-evaluation component aimed at helping student monitor their own behaviors.
In conclusion, I believe teachers hold an important role in the lives of many students. It is not only about teaching them, but building lasting relationships that inspire students to achieve greatness. The relationships with my mentors, the teaching experiences I have gained, and the support from my colleagues have contributed to my teaching philosophy. I strive to create an equal opportunity among students by promoting diversity and a learning environment that is inclusive of all students. But the key to my philosophy rests on the idea that I must set high standards for students and myself. I lust lead by example for my students as my mentors did for me.