Life as a Teaching Philosophy

 

When contemplating about pedagogy and learning, it is important to note that there are many ways to define and identify the role of the human element in facilitating teaching and learning. Oftentimes, people mistakenly associate teaching, learning, and teaching philosophies with only the responsibilities and roles of instructors and professors. However, the concepts of teaching, learning, and having a teaching philosophy are interdisciplinary and applicable to other domains within the college context. My teaching philosophy functions within the domains of academic affairs and student affairs. Moreover, my perspectives on teaching and learning serves as a guiding compass that informs my facilitation of teaching and learning as an academic tutor and as a former student affairs administrator.

As I reflect on my principles regarding teaching and learning, I find that my purpose as an academic tutor and former administrator is six-fold:

  • promote positive and meaningful learning;
  • encourage active learning and participation;
  • encourage a co-constructed learning environment;
  • provide opportunities for student development and growth;
  • respect diverse talents and ways of learning;
  • and develop transformational relationships with students

To accomplish this six-fold purpose, I implement several integrative and overlapping strategies that allows for students to develop into individuals that are meaningful learners, better prepared for personal, academic, and professional opportunities and challenges in the future, and co-constructers of their own knowledge.

As an academic tutor, I use differentiated instruction to structure and individualized my sessions based on the needs of each student. Moreover, I work collaboratively with each student to address the concerns, questions, or frustrations he or she may have about his or her assignment or, sometimes, the class in general. By addressing each students’ frustrations and concerns, I am able to relate to them and help them understand that while every student works and processes knowledge at different levels, it is more important for them to strive to produce their best effort regardless of the level of everyone else. Furthermore, when I am tutoring students, I inform them of other resources and programs that could help them with their courses and development. I recommend these resources so that each student can become more knowledgeable about his or her academic and professional career. Within this position, I also guide students in understanding the importance of the material they are learning and how these concepts could help them in other areas of their life through the use of probing questions that help facilitate meaningful learning. This guidance that I provide is co-constructed in a way that helps to facilitate not only meaningful learning, but also meaningful conversations on a personal level about how the material relates to something in their life or their educational and career goals. Lastly, I closely evaluate a student’s progress and development over time to collaboratively work with the student to help develop, adjust, and enhance their learning strategies for processing and understanding course material as a meaningful learner rather than a regurgitative learner.

As a former student conduct administrator within the Division of Student Affairs, I implemented a teaching philosophy that was predicated on differentiated learning and instruction. Each student’s case and sanction management were tailored to that individual and their situation. When assigning, managing, and monitoring sanctions, I incorporated educational and restorative components to ensure students were processing this experience as a learning and growth moment rather than punishment. This process of co-constructed teaching and learning was instrumental in helping each student in crisis become meaningful learners that acknowledged that everyone is challenged and has to live with the consequences of their actions, but it is more important for them to overcome their obstacles and strive to be the best person that they can be. Additionally, during the sanctioning and monitoring of each students’ case, I evaluated whether the student was successfully progressing academically—an important part of my philosophy. I conducted follow-up meetings to better monitor and adjust sanctions, treatment plans, and academic needs based on the needs of the student and the evaluations and feedback from other professional staff involved in the process. If students’ cases indicated they were struggling academically, I incorporated academic tutoring at the Center for Academic Success, career planning/mapping at the Career Center, or other services and programs to help them be successful both academically and professionally. This strategic probing not only helped facilitated more knowledge about academic success and career opportunities, but it also provided an environment for students to converse on a personal level about how the information they were learning informed their educational and career goals, their academic performance, and overall well-being.

5 thoughts on “Life as a Teaching Philosophy”

  1. Akeisha,

    Your teaching philosophy made me reconsider my attitudes toward the role of pedagogy, and its place outside the classroom as we ‘traditionally’ conceptualize it. While several aspects of your philosophy overlapped with mine–most notably our shared focus on a co-constructed learning environment–it was invigorating to view these values from a different perspective. Having little experience of student affairs work, it was fascinating to see how you applied pedagogical principles to those contexts. Your use of differentiated instruction techniques while tutoring reminded me of my time in the Writing Center, where this differentiation often occurred on-the-fly, as consultants moved between clients with varied instructional needs with a very quick turnaround. Seeing the ways in which these techniques overlap opens up possibilities for collaboration between different functional areas of campus, I think, and could create professional development opportunities for staff members across departments.

    Thanks for a thought-provoking read!

    Kit

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  2. Wonderful philosophy and even better thought process. Given your former professional experiences do you feel that student engagement is changing for better or for worse given the current customer focused approach to providing education? Your teaching philosophy presents and interesting point, that there should be more continuity between the classroom and the overall student experience outside of the classroom. Do you believe that your approach will become a new standard in higher education, especially considering funding changes? Are their any downfalls to approaching teaching from this standpoint? I personally, think your take is spot on, but I wonder if there are any known or assumed downsides to similar approaches. I think the most unique and appealing part of our philosophy is that you could use this philosophy across various disciplines.

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  3. Hi, Akeisha,

    I appreciate the interdisciplinary approach you take in your teaching philosophy statement.

    While serving as an administrator, how have you ensured that the institution affords the student every opportunity to overcome the obstacles and crises that occur on their path, so that they are better able to return to a meaningful learning environment?

    Best regards,

    Tony

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Akeisha, Your post reflected how you approach your teaching, which seems to be thoughtful and intentional. I really liked what you had to say about co-constructing and caring about the student’s overall success versus simply looking at how the student is progressing in one area.

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  5. Akeisha,

    I think you’ve done a really nice job of presenting your teaching philosophy as well as connecting it to your role and experience as an administrator. Specifically, I like the way you broke things down into six principles. I find that to be an effective way to think about your philosophy and ensure that you are true to it as you progress through your career. Do you foresee your philosophy changing as your career furthers, and if so, how would that play into those principles? Well done.

    -Dana

    Like

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