In thinking about my teaching philosophy, the following words come to mind: relationships, humanity, respect, seriousness, relevance, depth, analogy, energy.
Foremost, I believe that teacher-student relationships are critical to the success of the classroom experience. As in all of our relationships, we are engaged when someone wants to hear from us or when someone remembers something about us. We are positively engaged when someone believes in us, when someone trusts our intellect, when someone insists on our success and ability to achieve it. I practice listening to students and meaning it, and meaning what I say as well. In this way, I show respect, understanding, and integrity, and expect students to do the same.
My goal in teaching, and as an educator, is to allow students to discover the satisfaction in learning and developing academic identities. I want them to take pride in their hard work and discover their own interests. I want them to overcome academic fears and utilize their success in the classroom as courage outside of it. To do all of this, I find I need to provide students with the tools for success without being prescriptive in the learning process. I give them resources, and they produce questions and answers for themselves and from one another.
One of my favorite professors at the Graduate Center had this way of saying very little throughout our seminar while eliciting the most thoughtful responses from my peers and myself. She listened intently, and used her few words to jog our best thoughts. She genuinely took serious the ideas of students that other professors might overlook or dismiss, and in doing so, she allowed them to reveal their own, very real intelligences. Her teaching method was clearly intentional, well crafted, and took years and years of practice and honing. This is my ideal.