For the correct analogy for the mind is not a vessel that needs filling, but wood that needs igniting — no more — and then it motivates one towards originality and instills the desire for truth.Plutarch
Learning has always been one of my favourite pastimes, there is nothing like expanding your world into something larger, even if only 1cm at a time. I have been very lucky to have had many great teachers in my life, those who have truly made my life better by virtue of having known them. I am inspired not only by the content I have learned from them, but from their attitude and way of being, leaving me wanting to be a better version of myself. I’ve also had many teachers whose style has left me unhappy and frustrated. I have always been interested in teaching, and both of these cases inspire me to be a good example. A stint in an elementary school classroom let me know I wasn’t committed to being a grade school teacher. I find myself now on a track to being a university professor (of course tracks can change). What follows is a statement of teaching philosophy following by a statement of professional development skills created while in the Graduate Teaching Program and UM’s Centre for Teaching and Learning.
The three most important descriptors of my teaching style are passion, community, and trust. First, I hope to exude a passion for the subject matter I am in teaching, which I hope inspires students to engage and to actually want to be in class. Next, I hope to facilitate collaboration. If all I do in my teaching is to give lectures, there is plenty of competition from other resources who offer the same without being behind a paywall. Instead, I hope to create a learning environment where students engage with each other and with a teaching team that builds a sense of responsibility and accountability. Learning to work with others also has the added benefit of exposing students to diverse viewpoints and experiences. Finally, I know I must be realistic in the classroom. I have to show students I understand student experience and be realistic and collaborative with them when it comes to our learning plan. I should build enough rapport so that students know they can trust me.
Mixed media drawings by me (2013) based on old (mid-century) photographs of deaf/hoh children learning verbal annunciation
When it comes to professional development, see my CV for the specific teaching programs and courses I have completed. Here I will instead dedicate some time to comment on my “soft skills” I have developed that I believe give me a boost in my teaching and temperament. Specifically, a large portion of working skills in the Fine Arts involves the giving and receiving of critique, which has obvious crossover with teaching. Good critique is given in the spirit of openness and always towards development, never to put down the recipient. Critique is an observation rather than a judgement. Next, a personable skill I have developed that I believe will serve me well in the role of teacher is the ability to celebrate the work and accomplishments of students. It’s important this isn’t done in a patronising way, but rather as inspiration to press forward and to have grit, even in the face of challenge. Finally, I hope my personability will serve me when it comes to conflict management. It is common sense to meet students at their level, to never pretreat students but instead to respond to their needs.