What is your Signature?

I studied at a teaching-oriented high school. At that time, when I was in my last two years, I had to teach at elementary schools. This opportunity helped me to start developing my teaching skills, especially those related to creativity because it is really hard to have the attention of children around 6 – 10 years old. I ended up doing a lot of games as a way of teaching them. I realized that they really enjoyed that time because the class was something different to their daily routine.

Since that time, I always ask myself,

How do I want students to remember me? What is the impact that I want to have on them? How would you answer these questions?

I envision myself as a professor out of the box. During my years at school and university (my whole life), I have realized what I like and what I do not like when I am taking a class. This really helps me to envision the professor that I want to be.

First, I want to be a very creative/innovative professor. As mention by Prof. Shelli Fowler “The average attention span of people age 18-35 is close to 15 minutes”. That’s why I really care about spending a lot of time finding new techniques or ways to engage students in the class and to explain the topics. I do not want they feel boring in the class.

I am always looking for caught the attention of the students, even when I have to do a presentation, I always want to catch the attention of the attendees. For example, last semester I was a speaker at a conference where I was the only Ph.D. student. All the attendees were experts in the industry with more than 25 years of experience (most of them men). I was terrified and very intimidated by them because that was my first conference presentation since I came to VT. Plus, I had to talk for 1 hr and 15 minutes in a language that is not my naïve language. At that moment, I asked myself, where are the “normal” 20 minutes time for a conference?

I can tell you that I spent a lot of time working on my presentation. Maybe, this is something that most of students or professors usually do not do. I have been in classes where the professor has slides with text everywhere that I do not even have time to read it. If I try to do it, I will miss what the professor is saying (I can not do two things at the same time in English). They rather think if these are the better ways to communicate the concepts and examples. Just to give you an idea, the following picture was the first slide of my presentation (I am working with a concept called “phantom float”). That was a complete success, I had not even started and everyone was saying what an interesting way to start a presentation. Everyone was engaged from the beginning.

Second, I want to motivate and inspire students to be their own best selves. I truly believe that when you share your own experiences, you definitely have an impact on people’s lives. I want to be approachable. I want students to feel comfortable in the class so they really desire to go to the class instead of just going because they have to. I want to they enjoy the learning process! I am not the kind of person that can tell jokes in a classroom because I do not even understand the jokes in English but I can definitely find other ways to make the environment more enjoyable. For example, my advisor uses to play music before the class starts. Students can also select the music that they want to hear.

As well as our signature is unique, our teaching style and approach are too. So,

What is your signature?