My current Statement of Teaching is below. It is an articulation of thoughts and feelings about how I teach. It follows a format of four core questions from an Iowa State University resource. Though it will likely develop further, it provides a foundation to start from.
1. To what end?
I often think about my journey in education. I’ve spent a lot of my life serving others in many capacities. Being invested in an experience, asking questions and reflecting frequently allowed me to learn a great deal of useful concepts and how to contribute to my community effectively. In many cases, the goals and effects of teachers helped me along the way. Thinking about my teachers, in wide range of settings and capacities, I realize they were important to me and formative in my direction.
For my students, I aim for this type of quality learning because in turn, this will be instrumental in shaping the way students make decisions. For this, they must not only have an understanding of the material, but know how to utilize it in decision making. I have the goals of civic engagement, critical thinking and effective communication. Being able to engage in a community, think critically and communicate effectively to solve problems in a challenging world in areas of agriculture and the environment would have an influential-positive impact. Achieving these goals will help students become better citizens and ultimately change the world.
In the field of agricultural ecology, this means considering impacts of all actions in the ecosystem. In my class, I aim to enable the learner to cope with the problems of the past, present and future. I also aim to motivate students to take ownership of their own learning and realize their potential and responsibility.
2. By what means?
Achieving these goals is an adventure. Every choice that I make will have an impact. In my experiences, I’ve deeply reflected on effective teaching and the challenge of imparting knowledge, skills and attitudes. I believe it is necessary to use a variety of techniques and strategies while being able to adapt to different students and situations. This will require planning and organization.
I know it is necessary to cater to different learning styles. My most meaningful learning comes from hands-on activities. However, everyone is not the same and thus it’s important to know students in the classroom and take students’ background and identity into account when teaching.
Regardless, lectures will an accessible, exciting and productive learning experience. I believe that increased understanding comes from discussion in small groups. This allows peers to work together, learn opinions and ideas. It is important to be flexible enough to permit free play for individuality of experience, yet firm enough to give direction toward continuous development.
Another critical component is setting the tone for the class. Articulating goals in all means of communication, so everyone is on the same page and working toward the same goals is essential. It is important to create an open and respectful environment. I will convey my excitement for the subject and the potential for learning. This will make an atmosphere open for interaction and inspire students to ask questions.
Also, I will provide a level of professionalism that promotes hard work and structure, but also allows a level of approachability and caring that encourages questions and discussion. Finally, I hope to demonstrate that entire semester is part of bigger goal, connecting all concepts presented.
3. To what degree?
I will assess students’ learning based on the activities assigned. This can range from participating in discussion, the quality of an assignment, tests performance, etc. Throughout this, I will keep in mind that every experience is different for every student. I know I’m not only looking for understanding of the material, but also growth. I will provide timely feedback and use assessment methods that reveal the complexity and relevance of student learning. I also plan to do more readings on the research in this area and integrate them into my practice.
Teaching effectively is important in working toward the mission and values of the institution, college and department. Though teaching has many moving parts and the field of agricultural ecology is very complex, it is a worthwhile challenge. Agricultural ecology is needed in many fields. The task is essential to human well-being and environmental integrity given the significance of agriculture and environment in life today.
In teaching, I will be going through a continuous process of growth and development within myself and with others. I’ll be actively reflecting on my own practice and utilizing feedback I receive. I look forward to putting these words into action.