Teaching is an art as well as a science. It is not only a profession but also an ideology
My teaching philosophy is based around but not limited to the following statement-
- I believe teaching is an art as well as a science. As an art, teaching demands care and persistence. The more we experience, the more we learn and décor our profession. As such, as a teacher, first and foremost, I do care about my students, my subject, and the entire learning process. I also do believe that teaching is not only a profession, but also an ideology that demands commitment and flexibility. I am committed to my students to show the light even at the end of the tunnel and flexible enough to accommodate students’ needs. So when I construct syllabus I always leave room to adapt to students’ interest and concerns.
- As a student of anthropology and a big fan of fieldwork and participant observation I have learned that we have a basic responsibility to listen first. The same is true for effective teaching. I do listen to all of my students with patience. As part of this process, every semester I conduct two surveys in addition to the end of the semester evaluation; one at the very beginning of the semester to know their expectation and other at the middle of a semester to grasp their views on what I need to accommodate. These two feedbacks help me to identify student’s need and to address their questions and concerns effectively.
- I believe that a teacher is someone who is passionate about a topic and equally passionate about communicating that topic to others. As such, effective teaching is tantamount to effective communication. But I have experienced teachers who are brilliant but fail to communicate the contents to their students. I believe that lack of effective communication skills makes the topic of teaching “a foreign movie without subtitle” to students. In order to communicate effectively, my teaching strategies cover a range of formats, which vary with the goal intended for each class. Apart from conventional lectures, I do practice visual presentations and periodic tests, learner-centered techniques, creative assignments, and group projects, which develop students’ ability to focus on a specific topic of interest.
- I believe that learning should be fun. This does not mean necessarily frivolous, but fun. If a teacher can ascribe a sense of fun in the classroom, I believe that the benefits are great. I always try to recognize individuality in my students because every college student has a life, a story, thoughts, and feelings that s/he brings with him/her to the classroom and the learning process. I keep in mind this reality and try my best to address what hinders my students’ learning. For instance, as a TA of a large class, Art History of Cinema I observed that a student’s grade in my grading section suddenly dropped down, but grade record shows that the student is brilliant and studious. I emailed the student to see me during office hours and came to know that a family problem made the student disappointed and resulted in a bad grade. I listened patiently, advised, and motivated the student. Eventually, the student ended up with a good grade.
- As an informed guide and mentor, I always try my best to help students to overcome hurdles and pursue their goal. The following email from a student of the same class that I TAed for demonstrates my philosophy. The student wrote-I just wanted to Thank You for your help and support, I appreciate it a lot. This semester was difficult for me because of my surgery but thanks to people like yourself I was able to be on track of my education. So thank you I wish you the best of luck in your finals as well
In short, my teaching philosophy includes, but not limited to learner-centered teaching, professionalism, flexibility, fun, guidance, and caring.
I talked on livelihood resilience as one of the six panelists organized by The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars at Washington DC on December 4, 2014. The talk was titled Living Through Extremes: Building Livelihood Resilience Across Sectors and Countries. The program is available here