More than transmitting knowledge, teaching is about inspiring others to discover their purpose and potential. As a professor, I have the opportunity to impact the lives of students, and I take that role seriously. Each student enters the classroom with a unique and valuable set of life experiences, and my goal is to use the tools of sociology to help students better understand their lives and the larger social world in which they live.
Teaching requires openness to change. Therefore, I continually examine my teaching techniques and experiment with ways to become a more effective teacher by integrating technology, adapting practices to address the needs of an increasingly diverse student body, understanding different learning styles and incorporating various assessment strategies. I strive to create an active, collaborative learning environment in which all participants are both teachers and learners and where students can discover knowledge rather than be passive recipients.
I strongly believe that critical thinking and a global perspective are crucial to becoming a competent citizen in society. Rather than teaching sociology simply as a collection of facts, names and theories, I strive to provide students with a set of principles to apply to their everyday experiences. By examining cultures other than their own, students learn to examine and critically analyze their own taken-for-granted realities. My role, then, is to help students learn to address the complexities of an issue, carefully form opinions, and develop and analyze solutions to social problems. Education can be liberating if students master how to learn and how to think. Making that small contribution clearly defines my professional goals as a teacher.
Collin College's Learning Communities-interdisciplinary, team-taught courses designed around a theme-have broadened my vision of teaching and learning. The goal of Learning Communities is to address what Ernest Boyer and other educational theorists have described as a "disconnect" in education-a disconnect between disciplines, students and faculty. Building a community of learners, making crossdisciplinary connections and emphasizing active learning are a few of the many benefits of Learning Communities.
Students in my Learning Community classes are involved in extensive group work and critical thinking exercises. For example, in Let's Talk About Sex: The Politics of Sexuality and Gender, students conduct original research, prepare poster presentations and present their findings at Collin's Cultivating Scholars Student Research Showcase. This is a rewarding experience that enhances scholarly curiosity and interest in the research process.
The benefits of Learning Community classes are spurring interest throughout higher education. Because of past conference presentations, I have had the pleasure to assist replicating this innovation at colleges in other states.
I recall the teachers who made a difference in my life, and I am grateful to them. In turn, it is essential for me to be available to students-and to fellow colleagues as well-to help them reach their goals. I have an open-door policy and strive to be approachable and welcoming to my entire college community. I also sponsor campus events and encourage events outside of the classroom to build a stronger faculty-student connection and deepen student learning.
Galileo Galilei is quoted as saying, "You cannot teach a man anything; you can only help him find it within himself." Through teaching, I dedicate myself to inspiring, challenging and nurturing the minds of my students as they discover the art of learning-and the art of life.
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