Teachers teach; students study. As a teacher, I carry with me the influence and models of the teachers I have had. Their passion for learning and for the subjects of their teaching inspired my own passion for teaching and learning. As a teacher, I am myself, first, a student, engaged in the process of discovery, the effort to see connections between new knowledge and the totality of what I have learned, the struggle to recognize its implications for my life and the lives of my students. My goal is to ignite in my students a similar passion.
Some students see no purpose in coming to class. They feel they can learn the materials by studying the textbooks and reading online notes and materials. But there is more to teaching than just an exchange of ideas. A teacher serves as mediator between student and information and ideas. While students can learn without a teacher, they learn better with one.
As a teacher, I recognize that, if students are to study, they must be taught how to study. I bear a responsibility to provide them models and strategies for effective studying, to analyze what they are doing and why, show them a better way, and motivate them to take it. My responsibility in motivating them includes appealing to their sense of professionalism, their pride in their own self-worth and achievement, their desire to be successful, and even their fear of failure.
If I am to teach effectively, if they are to study effectively, I must show them why what I am teaching matters. In the end, if I am successful, if I have truly taught them, their study continues long after they have left my classroom. In the end, my goal is not their achievement, but their lifelong struggle to achieve, to go beyond their seeming boundaries, to grow and change and join the society of learners among whom I count myself a member.
If I were to speak to students on the importance of school, my message would be very similar to this speech delivered by President Barack Obama to high school students on September 8, 2009.
My Philosophy of Teaching
"You can lead a horse to water, but sometimes, all you can do is drown it."
-- Bill Stifler
(Think Annie Sullivan and Helen Keller)
"To be the kind of writer you want to be, you must first be the kind of thinker you want to be."
-- Ayn Rand, The Art of Fiction