Teaching philosophy – a first attempt

This is the first time I have ever tried to put my own teaching philosophy into words.  Over the years, I’ve developed thoughts and opinions on what I believe it means to be a teacher and on what I think works and doesn’t work in the classroom.  I’ve actively observed “good” and “bad” examples of teaching, and those experiences have definitely influenced my thoughts and actions when in a teaching or mentoring role.  Unfortunately, I’ve probably learned more about my own style from observing poor role models and deciding what not to do, than from having great role models that I can emulate or borrow from.  (I have had some really good ones, but they seem to be the exception rather the norm.)  Until now, I’ve never really tried to spell out my personal philosophy on the subject.  Just so we’re all on the same page, the philosophy below is really about what I intend to do, as opposed to what I am currently doing (I’m not currently teaching).  So, it’s a little bit of forecasting into the future, and, of course, subject to change as my own experiences change.  While it may be incomplete and certainly not the final word, I thought I’d share it.

I believe that teaching is a collaborative exchange of knowledge, experience, and passion that can alter the course of an individual’s life and change the future.  As a teacher, it is my responsibility to introduce and connect students to new learning opportunities that actively challenge, inspire, and ultimately lead learners to a lifelong pursuit of inquiry, analysis, innovation, and dynamic problem solving.  I adhere to an interdisciplinary approach that incorporates engineering, construction, environmental management, planning, and connection to people and communities.

Team-based learning is essential to my teaching philosophy.  I believe in instilling and promoting team-building skills and the ability to work in diverse groups to expand upon individual skills and enhance the overall learning process.  Through use of case studies, current events, and interaction with academic and professional experts and project sponsors, my students learn to self-organize, manage, and make decisions within a relevant and meaningful context.  My courses are typically student-centered, allowing me to maximize student-led activities and to integrate unique student experience into each class and each semester.  I strive to incorporate differing cultures and settings into comprehensive, project-based applications within class.  I will typically engage foreign students and students with international backgrounds and experience to help shape the context of projects and assignments.  I believe that each student is a leader and a professional, and I use the classroom to increase student confidence, expand personal boundaries, and refine skills.

While my courses are not completely flipped in format, I am making more frequent use of video lecture material to increase the ratio of active versus inactive learning within my classroom.  I am also currently engaged in developing content for an online course that I frequently integrate into my face-to-face classroom setting.  I enjoy finding new ways to introduce students to emerging research, materials, technologies, and real-world applications in construction and engineering.  My students are introduced to each new generation of digital research and collaborative media tools.  I take pride in creating an environment that encourages exploration of new techniques and applications in pedagogy, while increasingly engaging students in active participation in all aspects of the learning process.

While I expect a lot from my students, I absolutely believe that they should expect nothing short of excellence from me.  I constantly seek new approaches from other faculty and industry professionals.  Every class should present new opportunities and fresh approaches to both the fundamentals and to emerging areas within the field.  I genuinely enjoy demonstrating the process of collaborative learning, and maintaining a high degree of accessibility to my students and fellow colleagues.  Ultimately, I end up with best of both worlds – I learn as I teach, and teach as I learn.  I strive to constantly instill pride, commitment, and integrity in scholarship.  My greatest aspiration is to promote and inspire a new generation of fellow life-long learners and practitioners.  If I can achieve that, I have made a meaningful contribution.

Leave a Reply