I believe that it is my responsibility as a teacher to provide students with the following:
• An environment conducive to learning,
• Knowledge that will help them be successful in achieving their goals,
• Materials, opportunities, and feedback that will help them learn, and
• Help in becoming and remaining motivated to be successful both in their studies and in applying their knowledge to solve problems in their lives.
I also believe that my students have duties to me, to their fellow students, and to themselves. I believe that these duties support me in fulfilling my duties tostudents.
Thus, I believe that it is the students’ responsibility to be supportive ofthe teacher and fellow students by being:
• Tolerant of different points of view,
• Prepared for class,
• Willing to work hard to complete course activities,
• Willing to bring their life experiences into the class to enrich discussions,
• Andwilling to try to apply what they learn in class to solve the problems theyface on their jobs and in their lives.
Therefore, because of the reciprocal nature of the duties between teachers andstudents, I believe that it is a fundamental mistake to see students as customersor as clients because such a view incorrectly implies that the primary duties inthe relationship are the teachers’ duties to the students and virtually ignores theduties of students to their teachers, fellow students, and themselves.
Although there are many things that characterize me as a teacher, my teaching philosophy is based on a fundamentally optimistic view. I believe that all of mystudents, with the help of the right tools, will be able to overcome any difficultiesthat the study might present. I don’t mean that every student who enters my class will be able to express him or herselfequally simply as a result of how I present the lesson, but rather that each of mystudents will be guaranteed the opportunity to express him or herself to the bestof his or her abilities. I believe that one of my best qualities, as a teacher is myability to inspire confidence in my students so that they feel comfortableexpressing themselves regardless of their level of ability.
Guiding, Facilitating & Gatekeeping
In my role as a teacher, I have three primary functions: tour guide, facilitator, and gatekeeper. Each lecture, laboratory, or homework assignmentcontains elements of all three functions.
As a tour guide, I lead my students on an intellectual journey through their courseof study. My role is to point out the scenic attractions, highlighting particularfeatures of the subject matter, and focusing attention on major points, importantterms or concepts, relevant issues, and significant relationships. It is myresponsibility to decide where the path leads, what topics are important, whichconcepts are central, and how much emphasis is placed on each subject area.
As a facilitator, my job is to provide an organizational framework and a set oftools that students can use to assimilate the knowledge they seek. These toolsmust be sufficiently diverse to accommodate the varying needs of differentpersonalities and learning styles. In my courses, I provide lecture outlines,handouts, worksheets, group activities, and homework assignments thatsupplement lectures.
As a gatekeeper, I am responsible for setting standards of achievement and forevaluating the progress of my students against those standards. I do not rewardlaziness or sloppy thinking. I insist upon excellence. I do not grade on a curve,but try to apply an absolute scale. The bar is set at a fixed height, not to belowered. In the course of their education, I expect students to develop an abilityto think critically and analytically, to know what questions to ask before making adecision, and to know where to look for answers to their questions.
As an instructor, I have the responsibility to help my students learn how to learn. Ihope to inspire my students with a desire to learn more on their own. I encouragestudents to take advantage of resources other than standard course materialsand lectures. By doingso, I hope to show my students the tremendous availability of resources to use inlearning about almost any subject matter they are studying.
I expect students to take individual responsibility for their education by comingprepared to participate in class. To encourage student participation, I use activelearning techniques to draw individuals into class discussions. During classmeetings, I ask students questions and use their responses as a foundation forthe concepts to be covered in the class period. In addition, I attempt to redirectquestions posed by students in the class to other students. By using activelearning techniques, I hope to help my students understand they are responsiblefor their own education experience.
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