I love being a participant in another person’s learning experience. It is so fun for me to witness those exciting moments when someone makes an exciting discovery, gains a deeper understanding, or “finally gets it”. My goal is to facilitate learning in such a way that every one of my students has the opportunity to experience at least one of these moments. I have worked throughout my experience as an instructor to identify areas where I can improve and to research and independently inform myself of effective teaching methods. My practice evolves over time as I test different methods and retain the ones that I find most effective. I believe in balancing the accountability that my students for their own learning with the responsibility that I have as a learning facilitator.
In my instruction, I strive to promote the idea that intelligence and abilities are not fixed and can be improved over time with work—a student is not inherently “bad at math”, for example; there are just some math concepts or skills that the student has not mastered yet. Different students may learn in different ways, but I believe that they are capable of growth in areas of study that they might not believe they have natural competence in, and I explicitly encourage this mindset in my students. Part of the way that I adhere to this mindset is to set clear expectations and hold students accountable for their learning. I present students with challenges that I expect them to struggle with, but I also give them scaffolded support through these challenges and highlight their growth and success so that it is evident to them.
I believe that it is within my sphere of influence to create a classroom environment that facilitates growth and learning for all students. I strive to facilitate a positive learning experience that includes both effective learning activities and an environment in which all students feel comfortable asking questions and admitting confusion. Every learning activity that I implement is used deliberately to build enduring understanding, and often in a collaborative way. I intend for all students from all backgrounds and perspectives to have their learning needs addressed, and I intend for all materials to be presented in a respectful way. I appreciate and carefully consider any input and suggestions for improvement from all students.
I primarily teach introductory science courses to non-science majors, and in these classes my students don’t typically begin a semester immediately recognizing the applicability of the course to their fields. I emphasize to my students that I want them to leave my classes with proficiencies and tools that are directly applicable to their fields of study, work, and lives: enduring understanding of the course topics and their relevant applications; critical thinking and analysis skills; effective communication and teamwork skills; and excitement for continued learning. It is my hope that my students carry with the impression that I care about them and have been committed to supporting them in their learning.