My Teaching Philosophy

As mentioned previously, I need to complete a teaching portfolio over my year as a lecturing intern as part of the PTIS scheme.  Central to this portfolio is a personal teaching philosophy, detailing why teaching is important to me, what my objectives are as a teacher, what methods I will use to achieve my objectives, and how I will assess if I am successful in achieving those objectives.  We had to submit a preliminary Teaching Philosophy as part of the course, you I thought I would post mine for you all to be enthralled with!  A bit on the formal side, but enjoy:

Why is teaching important to me?
Teaching is important to me, as it is an avenue that allows me to pass on knowledge to the next generation of scientists. This knowledge transfer is central to the continuation of science of a whole, and is crucial to the effective stewardship of our environment as we move forward in a changing world. As such, my teaching is grounded in the fundamentals of science. When I am disheartened during my teaching, I would like to believe that I would try to bring my teaching back to the basic principles of preparing students for a scientific career. I would like to feel that my teaching would in some way create a positive difference in the world, especially in regards to effective and responsible stewardship of our environment.
What are my objectives as a teacher?
I strive to engage with students, making them care deeply about the subject matter. I also hope to inspire my students, and raise interest in areas that they were not previously interested in. I also aim to challenge student’s previous concepts and notions through learning that is primarily aimed at ‘problem-solving’ instead of just knowledge retention. I believe this will prepare them for their future careers most effectively. A focus on building independent skills like problem solving and scientific writing in order to allow them to transfer what they learn in the classroom out into the ‘real world’ where they will then be ready to make a difference. As such, I hope to eventually leave an ‘academic footprint’ where my teaching has led to numerous students making a difference in a number of different fields. Finally, I want my students to develop a sense of responsibility towards protection of the environment and understand their responsibility as scientists to interact with other scientists and the general public.

What methods do I use to achieve my objectives?
I strive to ensure that my methods of teaching are all based around a central concept of keeping students engaged at all times with the subject matter, whether completing assessments, attending lectures, or being out on fieldtrips. Specifically, I am interested in getting students to be more accountable for the work they produce, as this will form the basis of their future careers in science. At the moment, I am exploring options for displaying student projects on the internet as part of a blog, freely available for all interested parties to access. I believe this will give the students a sense of ownership over their project, as they will feel the work they are producing is influencing public opinion, instead of merely sitting in a lecturer’s desk after being marked, never to be looked at again.

How do I measure my effectiveness in achieving my objectives?
I have yet to formally assess my effectiveness in achieving my objectives, but I believe this will be done in a variety of forms, from informal to formal methods. Throughout my teaching, I will be continuously adapting based on what I believe is working and not working on the time, mainly decided through the responses of the students as a collective group. This will also include verbal/written feedback received from students both before and after the lectures. I will also assess whether or not my objectives are met after marking student assessments related to my aspect of the unit. I already have a set of criteria that I hope the students will be able to address in some of their larger projects – whether or not these objectives are addressed will be at least partly shown in the quality of the students’ assessments. Peer feedback will also play a significant role in measuring my effectiveness as a teacher. Before each lecture/tutorial that will be peer-reviewed, I will be submitting my teaching plan to the attending reviewer, which will include a detailed summary of what I hope the students take away from the lesson. In doing so, the reviewer will be able to provide feedback detailing if I was effective in meeting those objectives. Finally, more formal measures like SPOT surveys will be used to determine the extent to which these objectives have been met. However, this will be more for long term development, as they will be received after my teaching is completed.

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