Teaching Philosophy

This attached paper was my most recent attempt to put together some thoughts on teaching (fall 2007) – I think it still illustrates the fence I straddle at this point in time – asking what the needs are of the groups I serve… and these are 2 distinct groups… students and faculty. The paper with the faculty comments is attached for any interested…

I need to adjust this to be less research paper like and more personalized… but I really liked being able to re-read it and being able to think how things might have changed since it was written. Do I have any deeper understanding of things? Any new issues?

Theoretical Framework_S_Shaffer_with_comments.pdf

I build up to four philosophical stances about teaching for me at that time…

1) in the current educational system and cultural climate, that a developmental approach is necessary, across all curricula, by faculty teaching incoming students.

2) teaching today requires hopeful people who believe that change and progress can happen.

3) educators should be dedicated to continuing professional development regarding their content areas, but also be open to learning more about teaching and student development issues.

4) If students do come to us disinterested and cynical at such young ages, then what can we do to ignite the spirit of learning within them, to create a sense of enthusiasm and hope for the future, to help them find their passions and trust the process enough to let go of the search for the gold, and search instead for their passions?

In the conclusion, I wrote…
As I think about how my teaching philosophy has changed over the past several years, I see several new themes: 1) the need to better understand the current generation of students; 2) a willingness to meet students where they are in terms of attitudes and preparedness coupled with a developmental approach to teaching and learning across curricula; and 3) an openness to new and more holistic methods of teaching that can help students to reclaim their joy and enthusiasm for learning along with an approach to their studies that is more than simply pragmatic and superficial.

What is really interesting to me is how much these same themes came up for me again during a recent discussion with faculty. I had not read this before that discussion – so obviously, for me, these underlying assumptions and ongoing questions are still very much at play!

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