My teaching philosophy came together by combining six years of experience as a private tutor with two decades of experience as a student. The one-on-one nature of private tutoring has engrained in me the importance of creating personal relationships. The first thing I learned is that students need much more than just information transfer, they often need someone to talk to. Finding the perfect balance between being a teacher just to educate and a teacher that offers a listening ear was by far the most challenging, but important, part of my job. It never ceases to amaze me how spending as little as 10 to 15 min of a tutoring session catching up on stories can help increase both a student’s concentration and engagement. Additionally, subjects such as math and science can be very taxing on students, especially college students. So, preparing simple and easy to understand real life examples can alleviate some of the confusion by making concepts more relatable. An example would be comparing voltage to the height of a waterfall, and resistance to rocks or obstacles. Furthermore, I found success in incorporating the right amount of humor during teaching to break the monotony and keep students engaged without undermining my primary goal of educating. Integrating these approaches has always been one of my main challenges that I have learned to overcome through practice.
When it comes to teaching an entire class of students, my approach is mostly inspired by my own experience as a student and by the shortcomings of my previous teachers and professors. The most important concept I want to apply is to give students the freedom to learn using their own preferred method. This involves limiting mandatory homework, encouraging but not enforcing attendance, and keeping assigned readings short and relevant, all while including tests and projects to evaluate performance in an environment that does not allow cheating. My main goal is to place the learning experience in the hands of my students and allow them to step up and shoulder their responsibility towards their education. I want to provide as much freedom as I can without losing control over the class while also giving students the opportunity to do the right thing without being forced. As a student myself, mandatory homework created undue pressure to finish on time and get good grades, attendance guilted me into coming to class, and I generally skipped assigned reading because they were too long. In short, I rarely engaged in the traditional form of learning dictated by my professors, yet this never stopped me from establishing a fundamental understanding of the material. Therefore, I want to avoid limiting the learning methods available to my students and allow them to engage in the learning style that works for them. However, relaxing the number of mandatory assignments does not mean students can take advantage and easily pass the class. I still expect a student to have a well-established understanding of the material which is proven through proficiency in exams and projects.
Students are diverse and learn in many ways, which is why a teaching philosophy based on a single person’s experience is not enough to represent the whole. Therefore, it is of utmost importance to seek and listen for feedback, never get complacent, and accept constructive criticism all in the hopes of improving the educational experience I offer.