When teaching, my primary goal is to ensure my students master the course content. But, beyond that, I work to nurture critical thinking, application skills, and independence. It is my hope that, after taking my courses or working with me, students have a thorough understanding of the principles I’ve taught them and can recognize them in their everyday lives. When teaching, I put my students at the center of my preparation. Every student comes with some knowledge regarding the topic I am teaching, making every class different. When I’m preparing to teach my courses, I always try to take this into account to attempt to reach every student.
I use various methods to facilitate the application of the course content to the students’ real-life experiences. I try to incorporate many large and small group activities and discussion sessions into my lecture-based courses. I also try to make the concepts relevant to their lives by using many examples from my clinical and personal experiences, as well as using video clips that illustrate the concepts clearly. I use a variety of methods to reach more students; they aren’t all going to be behavior analysts or psychologists and making the concepts applicable to their lives has seemed to enhance interest and learning.
When teaching practicum or research courses, I stress application skills and independence. In my applied practicum course, I incorporate multiple application examples by having the students read research articles and apply those methods in the classrooms in which they are working. This seems to have helped many of the students make connections between articles they read and real situations in which these methods can be applied. Similarly, in my research course, the students frequently read articles and we have small-group discussions about the article and possible ways it can be replicated or extended. These discussions have led to multiple research projects in our lab and the students become more and more fluent with research methodology throughout the semester. Some of the best results of these discussions are instances when the students ask a question that we adapt into a study.
When teaching, I am flexible in many of the strategies I use. As I mentioned, I believe every student is different in the knowledge they bring to class, and it is likely that each class learns differently. Twice a semester, in all of my courses, I provide the opportunity for students to complete evaluations I have developed to provide feedback on the course and my teaching. These evaluations often result in more detailed and class-specific feedback than the university-developed evaluations provided at the end of each semester. By frequently providing these evaluations, I am able to make modifications to help my current students and create a better learning environment.
I teach with the overall goal of challenging my students to think critically and apply principles and course content to different applied problems. One wonderful result is when a student asks a question that causes me to pause and think critically as well. To me, this shows not only mastery and application, but a curiosity and love of learning that is all too uncommon in students today. Reaching these students is the reason I enjoy teaching, and keep working diligently even if I am feeling overwhelmed or stressed. I am firmly committed to teaching all my students, and am especially rewarded by those who go above and beyond.
I believe that my commitment to students sets me apart. I genuinely care about my students and have a passion for teaching them as much as possible, and helping them in any way I can. To this end, I spend a large amount of time on campus, with my door open, to maximize my availability. I always make time to meet with students, both for discussions about class and to give advice about issues or future plans. I believe this commitment is rare and much appreciated by students. I also believe it encourages them to spend time studying and working on assignments for my class; because, if I am willing to give them my time, they are more willing to give theirs.
I am still early in my academic career, and my teaching repertoire will continue to grow and expand in the years to come. I understand that this will be partially due to continuing my education through reading current literature and attending conferences, but I am confident that I will continue to become a better teacher through my students. Every student I have had has taught me something about interacting with and teaching students, and I plan to continue to learn as much from my students as I hope to teach them.