Teaching Philosophy Statement
How good you are, how skilled, how studied depends entirely on how much you want to put into it.
There is aptitude and there is talent. Both can be developed to meet personal, community, and professional needs.
Opening our minds; agreeing to disagree; positive argumentation; understanding how we all communicate and why are key to citizenship, personal growth, prosperity and education itself.
There is no more important job than teaching, and I am gratified to be a part of this profession. I enjoy the opportunity to help students open their eyes, to dream, to flex their muscles, expand their horizons, forge new paths, and reach their goals. I hope that students see how much I enjoy being in the classroom, and that this enjoyment (really passion and enthusiasm) creates a positive classroom experience. My philosophy is rooted in passion, engagement, support and flexibility.
I believe every person has potential, perhaps more than they may realize. The struggle may be great, but we have it in us to get there. Individual effort is important, but reaching out for help is equally important. Also important is having a quality of curiosity, openness, and persistence, and being willing to experience some discomfort along the way. For many students, going to college is scary – taking a lot of determination, with many students being the first ones in their family to take this step. Coming from a working class Chicago background, I understand that students may want to focus on practical goals. I also continue to appreciate the impressive diversity of the students in my classroom, in terms of age, nationality, and socioeconomic background.
I believe in an open discussion classroom and encourage students to ask questions and learn from each other. I learn from them every term. I also assume that students have different learning styles, coming from different places and backgrounds.
Students have the opportunity to excel to their personal best through written work, discussion, tests, and assignments. I offer a variety ways to engage students, through lectures, story telling, films, web-assist and online resources. Occasionally I have students who are surprised (or frustrated) that a speech class would include a range of topics, including current events, history, and social issues. By covering these issues students are given topic ideas, learn more about different sources and become exposed to conflicting opinion. Research and presentation skills are needed for future academic and professional growth. This provides good preparation for developing speeches, and helps to have a learning experience that is more interesting and challenging than a rote series of theory lectures and speech assignments. Plus this helps to encourage a habit of critical thinking.
Teaching communications, particularly public speaking, means that many students are going to be more anxious than in other classes. When you are up there you are vulnerable. An important part of my job is helping students gain confidence through a gradual progression toward goals. Students are often pleasantly surprised that they have achieved (or simply survived) this experience.
I am currently finishing a dissertation that is focused on the work of John Dewey, and I am reminded why I this philosopher impressed during my undergraduate days in Chicago. The notion that learning should be an active process of discovery, and be relevant to student learning [that teaching should not crush curiosity and creativity] and that an education is a social and community project, not merely an individual goal, grounds my philosophy. I will never become complacent about teaching, and hope to continue offering my services as long as I am allowed.
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