MY TEACHING PHILOSOPHY – “I CARE”
My purpose in life is to be a great teacher who inspires his students to work hard in order to ensure they that they all successfully complete their studies within the minimum prescribed time. Teaching at a university is a challenge with great and invaluable rewards. My students are, without exception, smart and motivated people with open minds; it is up to me to build on their intelligence, kindle their curiosity about learning and utilize their motivation.
“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.” (William Arthur Ward)
It is indeed my philosophy to inspire my students to learn in order to achieve great things. I always aspire to lead by example and thus my lectures are very practical and inspiring. I take my job as a calling and a service to my students, their parents and the community at large. I strongly believe that teaching is a form of a collaborative and mutually beneficial service in which the teacher creates a learning environment that motivates the students to learn and supports them in the learning process whilst at the same time he or she (the teacher) learns and develops professionally as a result of that interaction. In this way teaching and learning is a two-way collaborative relationship between the teacher and the students.
As a teacher, I practice a lot of empathy and I possess a deep understanding of the difficulties that my students face in acquiring knowledge. Demonstrating passion for teaching and concern for the students, I view teaching as an educational partnership which inculcates a sense of self, motivation and inspiration to both the students and the teacher. Over the years, I have come to believe in the fact that if you are to achieve successful results in the classroom, you need to view your students as partners in the learning process (the concept of co-creation) and they thus need to be active participants not recipients in the whole process. Without that there is no effective and sustainable teaching and learning!
One of my greatest sense of pride, inspiration and conviction to the teaching profession is invoked when I meet students in their first year at university, see them growing up, achieving good results and finally graduating with their degrees and diplomas.
My teaching philosophy is summarised in the acronym “I CARE” which stands for Innovation, collaboration, achievement, relationship and empowerment. These principles are explained below:
INNOVATION. Excellent teachers are innovative. As a teacher, I am not stuck in traditional methods of teaching and learning. I strongly believe that the world is dynamic and change is the only constant. As such, my teaching practices and pedagogies must move with the times and reflect technological and societal developments. I always incorporate recent research findings into my teaching and learning materials. This not only keeps me current but also ensures that the teaching and learning materials that I use from year to year are modern and up-to-date. In this era of the 4th industrial revolution, technology should drive teaching and learning. I have thus embraced technologies such as screen-casting, video lectures, a You Tube channel, social media and the use of teaching applications such as Flip Grid and Kahoot in my classes. The concept of the flipped classroom is now crucial or central to my teaching practices. The main purpose of a flipped classroom is to enhance student learning and achievement by reversing the traditional model of a classroom, focusing class time on student understanding rather than on the lecture. In order to accomplish this, I always post short video lectures on Blackboard for my students to view at home prior to the next class session. This allows our class time to be devoted to expanding on and mastering the material through collaborative learning exercises, projects, and discussions. In this regard, the concept of the flipped classroom ensures that, the homework that was supposed to be done at home is now done in the classroom, while the lectures that are usually done in the classroom are viewed at home.
COLLABORATION. Excellent teachers collaborate and engage positively with their students, their colleagues/peers, the community and society at large. For me to achieve excellent results in the form of good student success rates, I recognize the need to collaborate with my students, colleagues and other stakeholders such as industry and the society at large. I cannot do it alone and I will need more hands on the deck in order to have good pass rates. After attending a course on co-creation in teaching and learning, I realized that I should not treat myself as the only stakeholder in the teaching and learning process. As an excellent teacher I therefore embrace the voice of my students and other curriculum stakeholders in my teaching and learning practices.
AWARENESS. Excellent teachers have a high level of awareness and understanding of their students and their teaching and learning needs and expectations. As a teacher, I possess an in-depth appreciation of the context within which I work. I therefore have a high level of awareness of my students, their needs and their socio-cultural, economic and political backgrounds. This enables me to deliver my classes from an informed perspective and as such I do not believe in a ‘one size fits all approach’ and thus all my lecturers are customized to suit the needs of my audiences. In order to reinforce my level of understanding, I recently attended a course on the ‘decolonisation of the curriculum’ and I have thus started embracing African languages and practices in teaching and learning.
RELATIONSHIP. Excellent teachers build and sustain long term relationships with their students. As a teacher I strongly believe that I am not superior to my students and my peers. I am a strong advocate of social and epistemological justice in teaching and learning. As such I treat my students with respect and aspire to build trust, honesty, integrity and confidence in my relationship with them. I treat my students as partners, as co-creators in the teaching and learning process and therefore I always want to ensure mutual respect and win-win outcomes.
EMPOWERMENT. Excellent teachers empower their students and therefore facilitate the transformation of society. I believe that as teacher it is my responsibility to empower my students personally, professionally and socially for them to be valuable members of society. Through sharing knowledge, I believe that it is my responsibility to help in the positive transformation of society. I always aspire to inculcate in my students the values of hard work, commitment, honesty, integrity and lifelong learning.