Thursday, September 2, 2010


To achieve the goal of helping students learn, an educator must have a teaching strategy that guides the delivery of the course content and specific tactics that can be used to achieve success. Several of the principles that I have planned to guide my teaching activities are presented below.

1)Preparation is Key
I believe that one of the most important ways for me to provide high quality teaching is to be prepared for each and every class period. As a student I observed many lectures where the instructor was ill prepared. I vividly remember the frustration that I felt in those situations and determined that I would not exhibit such behavior in the classes that I teach. Therefore, I always strive to be prepared by knowing the material, having visuals prepared, and ordering the class in a logical and consistent manner.

2)Know My Students
Next, is to know my students. When I say that I need to know my students, I not only mean that I need to learn their names so as to personalize my relationship with them. In addition, I believe that to be an effective educator I must know pertinent information about my students. I should be knowledgeable about things like their skills, their reasons for taking the class, and their expectations about the class. To share knowledge that is pertinent to students, I must know their needs, expectations, and career goals.

I strongly relate to the adage of serving as the "guide on the side", rather than the "sage on the stage", as is the case in teacher centered philosophies. I believe in focusing on individual needs, and involving students in the process of their learning. I am very uncomfortable with the teacher centered philosophy of perennialism, in which multiculturalism and gender issues have no place in the curriculum. It is my belief that individual differences need to be recognized, respected, and even celebrated. Another aspect of teacher-centered philosophies with which I strongly disagree is the perennialist view of education as a "sorting mechanism". I believe that all students have strengths, and that it is the goal of education to assist students in identifying and building upon these. Tracking does not necessarily provide opportunities to do this, and may in fact limit potential in individuals which do not fit the educator’s definition of what constitutes the "intellectually gifted".

4)Social Reconstructionism
Students should be given opportunities to relate their learning and critical thinking skills to social challenges and problems outside of the classroom walls. Not only do students have the potential to make a difference within our society, they can grow as individuals in the process. This approach has the benefits of empowering students and building their self esteem and problem solving skills.
When facilitating a class or group (or even when working one-on-one with a client), my approach is not to lecture, but to rather allow opportunities for participants to share their own experiences, opinions, and questions.

5)Quality Must be a Top Priority
I have to strive to deliver a quality product to students. Quality is a critical part of effective teaching. To maintain high quality standards, an educator must define realistic objectives, reexamine course content to make sure the objectives are being met, and implement positive changes that will maintain and improve quality service to students, colleagues, and the university. One of the tools that I should used to incorporate quality improvement into my courses is a supplementary evaluation form. This supplementary form includes both open-ended and scaled questions that deal with both general and specific issues that are pertinent to each course. By monitoring and tracking these evaluations, I will be able to monitor each course more precisely and tune each course as needed.