Socrates showed us that teaching sometimes requires provocation. When students are bored or disinterested it is up to the teacher to stoke the fire. Whilst I believe that students must take responsibility for their own learning, I also believe that it is the responsibility of the teacher to challenge, inform, and facilitate them in this process. My personal style is based on the following principles:
Set clear and realistic goals.
Students respond best to goals that are both challenging and achievable. At the beginning of every class I outline the implicit social contract of what the students can expect from the course. I explain why and how they should become active in the learning process. I outline that I spend a minimum of three hours preparation for every one hour I teach, and expect the same from them. At the same time I value flexibility and strive to be responsive to the changing classroom dynamic and to student’s particular needs.
Establish fair and clear grading policies.
It is always a challenge to encourage students to avoid rote learning and a narrow focus on the assessment process. I tailor my assessment’ to each particular module I teach. But the general rule I follow is that both the assignment and the grading policy must be fair and relevant to the learning objectives of the course. Ambiguous assignments and grades frustrate students and disrupt the classroom dynamic. I always provide formative feedback processes as a mechanism to improve student performance.
Engage and respect the students.
Students come to class with a broad diversity of experience and socio-cultural background's. A good teacher must acknowledge that students have other interests, responsibilities and engage in various time-consuming activities outside the classroom. I respect the needs and individuality of each student.
In all of my teaching I ultimately aim to inspire and provide the right conditions for the student to become an autonomous learner. Active engagement and mutual respect is the best way to achieve this. Learning and teaching are essential aspects of my intellectual life. I believe that a social science and liberal arts education should produce students who are critical independent thinkers and capable problem solvers.