While basic tenets of my teaching philosophy remain the same, I’ve adapted my teaching approach and strategies to the feedback received from students in subsequent semesters. A large part of this has been adapting continuously to student feedback – both through summative evaluation at the end of the semester and informal formative evaluation during the semester. I believe that reflecting, learning and seeking feedback proactively and continuously are the only means to bring about continuous improvement. Such an approach, when adopted in a wider scale, will help bring about an experimenting society and an evaluation culture. As Donald T Campbell wrote,
“The experimenting society will be one which will vigorously try out proposed solutions to recurrent problems, which will make hard-headed and multidimensional evaluations of the outcomes, and which will move on to other alternatives when evaluation shows one reform to have been ineffective or harmful. We do not have such a society today.” – (Campbell, 1971)
My formative evaluation is based on seeking student answers to 3 questions sometime during the fifth or sixth sessions of each course. The questions are:
In the classes so far:
- What is working for you – what is it that you LIKE?
- What is NOT working for you – what is it that you DON’T LIKE?
- What suggestions do you have to help improve things that you don’t like?
Peer feedback, self assessment and serendipitous encountering of innovative strategies through conversations, research articles or online are other means informing subsequent changes.
The ancient Upanishads declared ‘thoughts’ as the most important – for thoughts lead to words, and words lead to action. Thus, as I reach out to impressionable minds, I feel my responsibility not just with words, but also with thoughts. My foremost thought in the teaching process is to help each and every student of mine realize their full potential and let the inner spark glow. The philosophy that guides me is, “Hidden inside every human is a fire of divine qualities. Simply touch the molten tip with all your heart and it will immediately set ablaze.” This connects directly with how much the student learns and how well the student performs because studies have shown that students with clear career and life goals are the high achievers. Also, by helping the student ignite their hunger for learning, I hope to address the students’ thoughts and the amount of effort the student puts in (action) to learn the most. I take it as my responsibility to help my students become the best of what they can be.
The ten things that guide me in my teaching approach and philosophy are:
- Helping students develop a ‘hunger to learn’
- Understanding my students: Setting clear expectations
- Preparation: Knowing my stuff
- Communicating effectively: Understanding the learning process
- Encouraging collaborative learning / Learning from Peers
- Providing regular feedback
- Being approachable
- Being organized, flexible and creative
- Having a passion for teaching
- Consistently seeking to improve