I love teaching when I see and feel the community of learners in our classroom respond to learning. I can sense this as students struggle to find truth in a Socratic discussion, when a student delights in overcoming a struggle to create a working circuit, or when students enter the classroom eager to share the success they have experienced in applying strategies that we have been working with in class to their own professional practice. I make it a habit to reflect on these moments so that I can try to capture the conditions for their occurrence for future use. My philosophy of teaching is informed by what I have learned from my personal teaching successes and failures, relevant scholarship, and current discourses about teaching and learning inside and outside the educational community.
Conceptualization of Teaching and Learning
Learning is not simply the acquisition of knowledge, it is the transformation of understanding. Teachers and students should actively construct new understandings together. Teaching is the process of facilitating this construction.
Student-centered teaching practices promote learning that is persistent and meaningful. I like to know what funds of knowledge, experience, and goals students in my classes bring to the group. Knowing my students helps me understand what resources they offer our learning community, and helps me scaffold learning experiences they may need to connect what they already know to new understandings. I think that understanding what my students want to achieve allows me to better facilitate learning experiences that blend my understanding of content with topics that emerge from our class interactions. Active learning activities are important parts of my classes because they foster socially-constructed learning, encourage problem solving, and provide opportunities for developing collaborative skills.
The Lighting of a Fire
As a teacher of teachers, my goal is ignite in my students an enthusiasm for teaching and a love of learning. I believe that if I can spark my students into thinking about teaching as being a passionate calling as much as it is a clinical profession, they may then pass the torch of learning for its own sake to their own students. As a teacher educator, it is my responsibility to incite a conflagration of teachers who vigorously advocate for a model of education that does more than facilitate a process for the acquisition of skills and facts, in favor of one that lights the way to a communal construction of knowledge that will warm the future.