Teaching Philosophy and much more

teaching

Traditional methods for teaching science courses in higher education employ a lecture format of instruction in which the majority of students are passively listening to the instructor and jotting down notes. Some professors challenge the wisdom of this pedagogic practice and advocate its abolishment.

I believe the traditional ways of teaching should not be tossed out the window. Rather, we should season them with a greater variety of teaching, so the student will share in the work of teaching and learning. Students must be engaged and involved in their learning process. This can be accomplished through:

  • Formation of small groups which enhances the students' learning and experience
  • Demonstrations which stimulate students' curiosity and improve their understanding of certain concepts
  • Development of presentations and interactive computer programs utilizing present multimedia capabilities
  • Simulations or role playing which allow students to practice what they have learned
  • Case studies which permit students to experience situations in the classroom that they might face in the real world
  • Creating a supportive classroom environment
  • Brief discussion about instructor's own interests and background
  • Writing course syllabi that clearly outlines course objectives, expectations, and methods of evaluation Availability outside the classroom                                                                                     

Throughout my career and my tenure in higher education as a professor and program director and which revolved around education, the student, the institutional environment, and the accountability of higher education towards the advancement and improvement of the society, in general, and the individual in particular have equipped me and provided me with the insight into the wonderful, complex and intricate world of higher education.

Throughout my career in higher education, I have always gotten excited and happy to meet people who believe in the importance of the issue of diversity and inclusiveness. Here, I am talking about the people who believe the issue of diversity and inclusiveness means much more than simply shelved and forgotten intermittent reports. I believe this issue means cultivating an institutional environment which values, promotes, and develops the richest and most integrative, respectful and tolerant classroom and workplace environments. Additionally, this means that commitment and continued vigilance from every constituent at the university/college is essential.

As people of the higher education communities, we are very diverse in nature and yet we require the same elements of core values, respect and tolerance to mature and survive. As human beings, I believe, we cannot judge people based on the gender, color of skin, affiliations or disabilities. We are all humans. Every one of us has feelings, rights, privileges, duties and obligations.

What is my point? My point is that tolerance, inclusiveness and diversity like anything are worth having but they require effort. They require the effort to learn and respect difference, to be compassionate with one another, to cherish our own identity, and to accept unconditionally the same in others. This is my belief and it is reflected in my work and dealings with students and other professionals.

I have always tried to build inclusive classroom environments. I have tailored many of my course content and presentations of the course material to student individual backgrounds, experiences and needs. I have used various educational and teaching tools such as the Web, Mycourses, Adobe Connect, Adobe Present, simulations, visual aids, interactive technology, study groups, individual tutoring and counseling, “real-life” context and so on. I believe students deserve to be treated with dignity, understanding and care, and need guidance and support. I personally find the idea of a partnership between faculty and student a more rewarding and enriching prospect. In our program, I encourage students to take the time to get to know themselves, to experience life at the university to the fullest and to courageously touch someone else’s life. I also encourage them to become active participants in their own learning process. I assure them no question is a dumb question. I ask them to share their ideas, in classes, seminars, labs and during campus activities. I ask them to challenge me without fear of reprisal. I believe this mentality is one of my driving forces in the recruitment and retention of students. Additionally, I believe one of my greatest accomplishments and contributions in education are the lives I helped to shape and the minds I have taught. I believe I cannot teach a mind unless I first shape an attitude. So I always approach teaching with the attitude that I must first communicate to my students that I respect them and that I want their respect in return. I do demand excellence in all things, but I am a role model for the excellence I ask them to strive for, and they can always see me working hard and “practicing what I preach”.

My belief in diversity and inclusiveness (in all of their aspects) and their contributions to the success of our society have driven me to develop a plan to ensure a sufficiently diverse student population within our program. How did we do that? Simply, by recognizing the importance of student interactions with faculty and other students, I advise and counsel every student in the program. Yes, I work with the student prior to their enrollment at the university, during their stay at the university and after their graduation. Often, I work with students while they are in Junior High and provide them with various academic and professional counseling, advisement and help needed to ensure successful entry into the university. I also arrange and secure for them shadowing opportunities with other university students and local and regional hospitals and clinics. Indeed, we have worked hard to establish and maintain a very positive and supportive environment for current and prospective students. I always try to build a community that is conducive to learning, development, and growth which is based on trust, respect and tolerance.

Throughout my career in higher education, I have received tenure, the Eisenhart Outstanding Teaching Award, the Student Affairs Faculty Award for promoting Teaching outside the Classroom, and the Alpha Lambda Honorary Society Mentor Awards. In addition I was the Keynote Speaker at RIT Convocations and Orientations for several times. I have also been nominated for the national Distinguished Educator Award in the field of Ultrasound. Here, I am not trying to sound arrogant but I am truly humbled and gratified by these honors, and I am even more convinced that I was destined to be in the world of teaching and be a servant to the society and our future generations. The receipt of these honors has encouraged me to be more involved and to learn more about our students outside the classroom environment. I believe the thirst for learning more about our students and the desire to assist them have propelled me into taking part in an important experiment. For two years, I lived on campus with students as the faculty-in-residence. I used the opportunity to be a role model, mentor, advisor and friend to these young men and women.

I took every opportunity I had to interact with students on different levels. I met students in a variety of places such as residence halls, student cafeterias, the gym, the on-campus convenience store, my office, computer labs, and residence halls lobbies, parking lots, anywhere and everywhere. The interactions with students were so in-valuable. They have taught me things that I shared with other faculty members and incorporated into my classrooms. The interactions and discussions strengthened my belief that students are intelligent human beings and have a lot to offer. Yes, students need someone to talk to, listen to their concerns, and offer them the assistance (helping-hand) whenever they need it.

During our interactions, I felt I was one of the students. They treated me as if I was one of them. They did not see me as an intruder. This type of feeling gave some students the courage to discuss personal issues and problems they were facing. They felt they could share things with me. On several occasions, students came to me with very sensitive problems they were facing in college. I addressed the students' concerns and arranged for them to obtain the help they needed from the appropriate officials.

The interactions I had with the students ranged from the simple "Hello, how are you?" to complex and intricate issues. The topics were (but not limited to):

  • How to interact with faculty and fellow students
  • How to survive at the university (Methods and Strategies)
  • How to adapt to the American Culture (foreign students)
  • How to enjoy oneself and have good grades
  • My experience as a student and a faculty member
  • Food and cooking
  • Watching football and basketball games
  • University policies
  • Student’s life in the residence halls
  • Solving problems
  • Academic counseling
  • How to become active participants in our communities
  • Chatting about anything

Undoubtedly, this was time-consuming but I learned a lot from that experience that has helped me to relate better with students inside and outside of the classroom-understanding how they behave and interact. It also provided me with an appreciation for the fact that each student is different, which encouraged me to diversify my classroom activities. I have worked diligently to involve faculty and administrators in residence hall programs. I actively solicited colleagues' participation in programs and activities. I have developed several programs but I am especially proud of two: We have developed and implemented a “Midnight Breakfast” event where faculty and staff assume the roles of cooks and servers at one of the university’s cafeteria during final examination week. This event was so successful where it became an annual tradition. We have also pioneered a unique Faculty Program aimed at bringing learning to students in their residence halls. I have invited many female professors to meet with the female students and discuss their experiences and even talk about their favorite books or stories. These programs helped and enhanced the concept of learning beyond the boundaries of the classrooms and bridge the gap between faculty and students.

During my higher education tenure, I also built an integrated support system where students who are struggling in science courses such as physics, mathematics, chemistry and so on received counseling, advisement, tutoring and support and by paying attention to the cultural and gender differences. I have also instituted a peer mentoring and collaboration program through our Ultrasound Student Association. I have formed study groups which at times led by me or by other students. At times some students were intimidated by their professors and they never sought help when they were struggling with course materials. In many occasions I had to contact the professor(s), schedule a meeting and accompany the student(s) to meet with the professor(s) and explore ways and means to help them in understanding the material, break the barrier and have a successful and enjoyable learning endeavor.

Moreover, I have shifted the classroom or student culture from competitive to interactive where the competition is not between the students themselves or between the teacher and the students. I have utilized a reward system as part of the learning process. I have always tried to assure students that they do not have to prove themselves in the classroom no matter what. I assure them that they are part of the process and we are together in this and we, together, will accomplish the goal.

 Additionally, I have advocated and encouraged our students to be involved with national professional societies or organizations. I have worked with the national organization to reduce the membership fee for our students. Our efforts were successful and currently our students pay a very minimal fee to join the national organization. The majority of our students are currently members. It is my belief that these types of organizations are a wonderful mechanism to break down gender, social and psychological barriers and assist in developing the student professional identity. In addition, I believe these organizations provide our students with a sense of community and networking. We have also applied for grants and solicited money to allow students to attend national conferences. I do remember how excited and enthusiastic the students were when we attended the national Society of Diagnostic Medical Sonography conference in Palm Springs, California. Furthermore, we have obtained a grant from Student Affairs to allow our students to attend the “Visual Human Body” which came to town few years ago. Additionally, we have arranged for our students and their children to go on many trips such as “Hay Rides”, “Apple-Picking”, “Corn-Mazes” and much more. Moreover, I have encouraged, helped and arranged for our students to be involved, participate and attend leadership conferences.

Today’s students are very diverse and bring with them culturally-based communication and learning styles, different sets of expectation, and diverse intellectual perspectives. These dynamics tend to challenge every institution. The institution’s faculty and staff must be committed and trained to address these changes. They must be able to facilitate cross-ethnic, cross-disciplinary, cross-gender, and cross-cultural collaboration. Indeed, I am strongly committed to promoting better education, diversity and inclusiveness. Working hand-in hand with faculty, administrators, and students to promote safe, respectful, effective, explorative, diverse, inclusive and positive learning environment is one of my firm commitment.

I believe one of my greatest accomplishments and contributions in education are the lives I helped to shape and the minds I have taught. I believe I cannot teach a mind unless I first shape an attitude. So I always approach administration and teaching with the attitude that I must first communicate to the students, faculty and staff that I respect them and that I want their respect in return. I do demand excellence in all things, but I am a role model for the excellence I ask them to strive for, and they can always see me working hard and “practicing what I preach”. I believe this position will necessitate the need for such behavior and attitude. I believe I can be a great team member where I can play a positive role in the development and implementation of new ideas and programs.

I am strongly committed to promoting better education. Working hand-in hand with faculty, administrators, and students to promote safe, respectful, effective, explorative, and positive learning environment has always been my firm commitment. I believe that the success of higher education institutions depends on higher standards of excellence and I support that. With great humbleness, respect and gratitude and among others, I believe commitment, innovation, cooperation, creativity, understanding, tolerance, motivation, respect are much needed to advance higher education institutions.

We as educators must encourage students to take the time to get to know themselves, to experience life at their specific colleges to the fullest, and to courageously touch someone else's life. We must also encourage them to become active participants in their learning process. We must preach to them that no question is a dumb question. We must ask them to share their ideas, in classes, seminars, labs and campus activities. We must ask them to challenge their professors and not fear upsetting them and not get the grade they need or fail the course. In other words, we must ask the students to dissolve and melt within the system and become its main foundation.

I believe faculty, staff, and students should be totally devoted to their university and to its future. We must understand that we, faculty and students, all travel the roads of solution and evolution together. We must all work together for the good of the whole. Yes, I believe the students are the pillars of any university. Its survival is dependent on every one of them.

Think of a university as a human body, if one part of the body aches, the rest of it will ache. Think of the faculty, administration, and staff as the central nervous system. The central nervous system directs, organizes, and guides the organs to function properly. Now, where do students fit in this scenario? Are they the arms, the legs, the eyes or what? I believe they are the blood that rejuvenates the whole system and allows it to thrive and survive. Faculty, staff, and students must work together and must strive to build a true community of spirit and purpose based on mutual respect and caring.

As an educator, it is my commitment and intent to educate and produce leaders who can make a difference for themselves and those who are around them. Some individuals think of education as a preparation for finding a job, for generating an income, and for building financial security for family and for retirement. I believe education should be a means to prepare individuals for life and its richness. It is also a means to learn how we ourselves can fit into the larger society and how our abilities and skills can be used in service to that society.

Moreover, as an educator, I believe it is my responsibility and duty to instill in my students the belief that education is something much more important than simply learning certain facts or skills. I understand that we all need to know facts and skills, but they are not enough. Education that limits its attention to only facts and skills will encourage a way of thinking that is inherently limiting.

As students enter the new phase of their lives, I would like them to think how they can use their education to help and serve others. I would also like my students to remember when they receive their degrees, the talents, the strengths, and the opportunity they have been given, and never forget that it has been entrusted to them for a purpose.

 

 

Research is to see what everybody else has seen, and to think what nobody else has thought.