Recently when applying for a teaching position, I was asked to provide my teaching philosophy in one pager for an interview – an hour prior to the interview. It was a test and given a recent article in the Sydney Morning Herald by Jim Bright titled : Mind your language, http://preview.tinyurl.com/mrsm4sf it was quite an interesting activity. When I inquired about the rationale behind requesting a teaching philosophy the dean provided some alarming facts about academics.
Not surprising that creativity was apparently not one of the stronger points of academics in the business faculty however it was the understanding and use of English that was most prominent on the mind of the dean. Jim Bright wrote that one spelling mistake in a CV or cover letter could reduce the applicants chances by 50%. Possibly our emphasis in schools and universities should not be focused around the technical abilities of our graduates but on the ability to communicate effectively.
It was the intent of the dean to ensure that the faculty was able to engage with students and to also be innovative in their approaches to content delivery. Gone are the days of a teacher standing in front of a class droning on while students pinch themselves in failing attempts to stay awake. The pedagogical art has evolved to a point where the learning process is interactive with the student taking on more responsibility for their own learning. It makes it more difficult for the “visa factories” where students are enrolled in an attempt to stay in the country and the higher goal is not graduation but permanent residence.
If it is then the case, that students in the lower end of the university system (such as the visa factories) require a more effective communicator that those teachers should be more equitably reimbursed in relation to their larger more established universities? Alternately, should it be that teachers in those established organizations where students require a lower level of engagement be paid less? This was just a thought that struck while writing my philosophy.
My teaching philosophy is derived and forged together from numerous, varied and vastly differing avenues such as; being a parent, a student, an employer and a child. From these perspectives I am able to empathise with the tumultuous world students find themselves in when faced with new and challenging concepts they are tasked with unravelling, repacking and then applying.
My greatest memories of learning are from teachers that have influenced my life by being supportive, engaging and challenging while conveying a lesson with subtle care and obvious enthusiasm so as to draw the student in me into the vortex of questions that triggered an active and enquiring mind. I vividly recollect my primary school teacher reading C.S Lewis, bringing Turkish Delight and incense to awaken olfactory senses but more importantly, to ensure young minds were actively engaged.
A student absorbing knowledge is a pleasant and warming experience to watch, but even more so when one is or has been actively engaged in the process. My personal satisfaction levels rise when a student absorbs knowledge and applies it in a unique manner to concoct an original thought or form. My satisfaction reaches a point of zenith at the instance when the student actually realises their achievement in a moment of epiphany and for me another journey has begun that I have played a role in.
Teaching online has been an absolute challenge in an ethical and professional sense. Ethically because of the greater level of engagement that is required to deliver quality learning and the unknown factor that this is actually reaching or is a positive experience for students. Professionally, given the thought that a student may not engage as a result of a shortcoming in my teaching method, ability or experience utilizing the technologies.
Initially, a great deal of uncertainty existed as to whether value is possible via a multi-verse delivery method, especially not having the facial cues to identify and adjust a teaching method, energy level or response to students. After a fourth semester of online delivery, experience with the tools has definitely increased, confidence in engagement and teaching techniques have improved which is gauged by the students communicating the same epiphany when discovering original forms are a result of their learning process in face to face mode.
Using methods such as “the flipped classroom” challenges students in a way that provides them with a deeper sense of understanding of the concepts in a given subject. This deeper understanding identifies the value that I believe teachers and students gain, more so than any mark or rating derived as a result of the assessment process is able to deliver. Personally, it is the enjoyment that students illustrate when they learn using such methods that provides the real value to all stakeholders, this is when I feel that teaching reaches a state of nirvana.
I enjoyed the opportunity to work to a deadline and test my skills – just to see how I progressed. We all have a teaching methodology whether it be formal in front of students or informal in the home situation. The impact that we have upon those around us is not so much about what we teach but the way that we teach that will provide an everlasting impact upon those we are communicating with.