Statement Of Teaching Philosophy

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Please do NOT call me a “content provider.” A text, videotape or an Internet web site can provide content, but they may not always teach. A true teacher is much, much more than simply a content provider. While texts or videotapes or websites may enlighten, educate, and possibly even inspire, they often do not do what true teachers do in addition to those functions, namely motivate, counsel and mentor.

Actually, the best descriptor for what it is that I attempt to do in our classroom is indeed “mentor.”

The major components of my teaching—or mentoring—philosophy include:

(a) establishing a positive rapport with the students;

(b) caring about the students as individuals, caring about our teaching of them, and caring about the material that we teach; and

(c) motivating the students to give their best efforts.

Clearly my teaching “philosophy” is inextricably intertwined with my teaching “methodology,” and as such must be described more in terms of what I do instead of what I contemplate. Thus, much of the following discussion will of necessity focus more on the methods and mechanics of my teaching than on its philosophical underpinnings. In addition, it should be noted that much of what follows is a result of my own experience (based on trial and error and intuition), and is not intended to be extrapolated to other teachers—who will and should develop their own approaches to good teaching.

Establishing a good rapport with the students must be based on genuine enthusiasm for the course material and for the teaching of that material to the students. Like good medical care, teaching is a deeply interpersonal interaction; computers and other instructional technology may enhance it, but they will never supplant it. The basic human connection between mentor and student is an integral part of teaching. And while students may acquire facts and information from technological sources, they acquire authentic knowledge and, ultimately, wisdom from other people, i.e., teachers, who provide a social, cultural and ethical context for those facts and that information.

It is also essential that the teacher care about the students as individuals, and this caring must be sincere. Students can spot phoniness in a moment. Furthermore, a teacher must care about how well he or she is carrying out the responsibilities of being the teacher in the learning process. The teacher should not only set high standards and expectations for the students, but must also apply those same high standards to himself or herself. Then the teacher must care deeply about the material that he or she is teaching. If the students are not convinced of the importance of the material and its real-world applicability, they are less likely to be interested in making the commitment necessary to learning that material in sufficient depth and breadth. It is incumbent upon the teacher to provide this orientation to and excitement for the material to be studied.

Finally, having established rapport with the students and demonstrated caring in the aforementioned manifestations, only then can the teacher embark upon a semester-long (or longer) voyage of motivating the students to persevere and to struggle with the material until it is learned. The teacher should also make the students aware that the completion of the course is not the “baggage claim area,” but, instead, another “departure lounge.” The teacher must inspire the students to enjoy learning and to seek knowledge throughout their entire lives.

In order to fully describe how I attempt to achieve the forgoing goals in my teaching, I must identify the “mechanics” of how I teach.

In all of my courses, I try to include or emphasize the following:

(a) making the instruction as personal as possible;

(b) keeping students informed at all times of expectations, assignments, exams and deadlines, and keeping them on task;

(c) explaining oftentimes difficult  concepts as clearly as possible, underscoring these concepts with real-world examples;

(d) having the students demonstrate their understanding of the material and their problem-solving skills; and

(e) accentuating authentic learning as opposed to rote memorization.

In summary, I would like to emphasize the truly dichotomous nature of what I view as “good teaching.”

In my opinion, a good teacher is one who is:

(a) supremely organized yet flexible enough to recognize and take advantage of “teachable moments” in the classroom;

(b) firm with yet approachable by and accessible to the students, and

(c) exceedingly knowledgeable yet constantly learning and seeking new knowledge and techniques to bring into the classroom.

Above all, a good teacher must maintain a strong sense of humor, being able to laugh with the students (but never at them), and being able to laugh at himself or herself on those numerous occasions when that is called for.

Preeti Manoj,
Physics Teacher at The Oxford School

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Showing 4 comments
  • Mahesh Sajnani
    Reply

    Well written Preeti!

  • DEEPA
    Reply

    Truly said..

  • SALMA AHMAD
    Reply

    Profound words Preeti and a truly great philosophy, one that actually works too.

  • FAUZIA HASAN
    Reply

    I agree with you, Preeti.
    A true teacher works passionately for the students and sees her success in the achievements of the students.

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