When teaching and mentoring students, I operate under a junior-colleague model. In doing so, I treat my students as valuable members of a team. As a teacher and mentor, I assume responsibility for my students’ success; therefore, I encourage feedback and open communication between myself and my students. I believe that using this model fosters mutual respect and creates a better educational environment for everyone. By developing a relationship based on mutual respect and open communication, I feel I am able to teach in a way that is most beneficial for all of my students.
I have learned many principal teaching skills and strategies to increase student engagement and learning. For example, when preparing lectures, I am sure to provide numerous real-life examples of the principles I am teaching to demonstrate the applicability of them to their lives. I also use a variety of visual aids such as videos or pictures to display relevant examples. In order to provide as much reinforcement as possible, I also provide numerous opportunities to respond during lectures by asking for questions or initiating discussions. I also provide a great deal of feedback, both during class discussions and written feedback on assignments, quizzes, and exams to praise correct answers and clarify incorrect answers. To increase engagement during class, I also include various activities (both small and large group) into my semester plan for each class. I understand that students have a variety of backgrounds and learn in different ways. By varying my teaching strategies, I hope to help as many as possible learn as much as possible. To help accomplish this goal, I provide multiple opportunities each semester for the students to provide me with feedback on my teaching and the course. That way I am able to adapt my teaching to address the needs of my current students. To evaluate the extent to which I have successfully taught my students during each semester, I administer a pre- and post-test on the objectives of the course.
I have also served as a teaching assistant in an applied practicum course in early childhood education for nine semesters. My primary responsibility was training and supervising 3-5 undergraduate students in a preschool classroom each semester. In this practicum course, the students served as teachers for 16-22 children (ages 2½ to 6 years) with and without intellectual disabilities in a university-based preschool classroom. My teaching and supervision strategies included providing (a) in-situ modeling and individual feedback, (b) group feedback during daily meetings, (c) lecture-based instruction during weekly meetings, and (d) quarterly evaluations of students’ performance of skills including development and implementation of lesson plans, implementation of procedures to increase appropriate behavior and decrease inappropriate behavior, and implementation of teaching procedures to increase social and pre-academic skills.
My primary goal has been, and continues to be, to promote students’ learning; however, I feel that in order to do so, it is extremely important to continue my education as well. I plan to accomplish this by reading current literature in the field, attending conferences, and collaborating with colleagues. Also, I believe my students teach me as much as I teach them; therefore, my teaching skills will improve through experience and student feedback. Teaching and working closely with students has been some of the most rewarding experiences of my career thus far. To help students make connections between the principles they learn in class and real-life situations has enhanced my learning as well as theirs.