Teaching Philosophy

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As a teacher, my goal is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to be successful academically, professionally, and personally. To do this, I seek to inspire and empower students to embrace their own learning. Students may be able to recite information for a grade even if they have no interest in the subject, but it will likely have little lasting effect. However, if I can help them understand the broader importance of the material and spark a desire in them to learn, then the impact of my teaching will extend beyond the final grade. It will be part of a solid foundation to help them become well-prepared members of the work force, future scholars, and intellectually enlightened individuals.

One of the basic responsibilities of a teacher is to provide information. The way we do this can make the difference between real learning and going through the motions. When lecturing, I strive to communicate my own passion and enthusiasm for the subject. Authentic enthusiasm is contagious. If I am teaching media ethics, I strive to show students the joy of understanding the principles that can guide them through the nuances and complexities of making tough decisions. In teaching feature writing, I aim to instill in my students the power of vivid storytelling. When I am passionate about what I teach, I communicate value to students. When students see knowledge as important to them personally, they are naturally motivated to pursue their own learning.

In this same vein, I try to make my classes enjoyable. I may incorporate relevant examples from popular culture to get students interested in what I’m teaching. A good joke can also go a long way in capturing an audience. While entertainment should never substitute for providing solid material, I believe students are more eager to receive my message when I present it in a way they can enjoy. I also try to be transparent in my teaching. I want students to see me as a guide who is on the journey of learning with them, not as simply the "sage on the stage" who is spouting information they need to pass a test. I think students enjoy learning in a class where they feel comfortable, and where they perceive the teacher as a real person. It is possible to have a casual, conversational style that makes students want to listen, while still maintaining order and authority as an instructor.

However, to truly equip students with the tools and knowledge to succeed, they need to do more than just listen; they need to participate. I feel my responsibility as a teacher is to empower students to take ownership of their learning. In my feature writing course, students pitch their stories, find their sources, conduct their interviews and research, and write stories by deadline. If I were teaching a technology skills source, the best way for students to learn is by using the tools to create a Web site, photo package, news layout, or other original work product. While I still guide students in the process of learning, handing them the reins empowers them to realize that they can do the job themselves. They can apply the concepts of our class to the same kinds of situations they will face when they enter the workforce or continue through higher education.

While my charge as a teacher is to lead students in learning, I am a student as well. I believe a personal commitment to lifelong learning is essential for staying engaged in what I teach and aware of the most current knowledge in our field. Thus, I believe it is my responsibility as a teacher and learner to stay abreast of both current events in the news and current research in our academic sphere. Likewise, I believe it my responsibility to contribute to this body of knowledge by staying active with my own research or contributing to local news content.

Through this involvement, I help uncover knowledge for not only myself, but also for my students and colleagues. Perhaps it is examining how news stories are framed and how they relate to the news agenda of the day, or examining journalism produced by teens online and how it relates to their local communities. Maybe it is simply reading a recent journal article about what another colleague found in his or her research pursuits. But if I abandon learning in my own life, I have no place to expect it of my students. Moreover, I will have nothing to give them. My teaching will become a stale, lifeless obligation that is neither exciting nor empowering. But if I hold on to the joy of learning, staying involved in the evolving knowledge of our field, I will stoke a passion within me and inspire my students to do the same.