Learning Manifesto

Philosophy of Teaching

As an instructor, I lean more to the constructivist method of teaching.  I feel like as educators, we should be responsible for much more than having our students memorize and regurgitate information.  When we turn loose of some of the control reigns and allow the students to learn in ways that they feel comfortable and empowered, that is where the true learning, comprehending, and actual understanding will really begin to take place!  I cannot tell you the countless number of classes I have “crammed” study for tests in, aced the tests, aced the classes, yet can hardly recall 10% of the information from the class.  This type of teaching is perfectly fine if it is not truly important for the students to retain that knowledge and really grasp the material from the class in order to use it later on in their lives.  Some teachers feel like whatever their students do not grasp in their class, they will probably pick up from their next teacher, or at their next level.  That is not the case for me and the classes that I teach though.

I am truly passionate about my students completely understanding and thoroughly learning the course content in my classes, and not just “making the grade”.   If I teach so that my students can memorize facts, take a test, and forget that information over the weekend, or by the end of my course, I am setting my students up for the ultimate failure, and I do not mean having trouble in future classes! If my students do not really retain the information that I am responsible for teaching them, it could ultimately become a life threatening scenario.  I teach students seeking degrees that put them to work in extremely hazardous and potentially dangerous situations.  If you do not really understand the environment, the processes, and the products around you, the hazardous environment can turn dangerous quickly!  I try to achieve this type of teaching/learning combination several different ways.  At the end of the week, I give an overview of what we will be covering during the next few classes, and I ask my students to do some research on their own, normally over the weekend, before we begin.  I feel like this helps more than me standing in front of a class lecturing over something that they have never heard of, and they are probably not understanding while I am introducing it.  The next class, I begin by asking students to share ideas on the topic. Sometimes we break into groups and I have them come up with at least one or two ideas to share with the rest of the class.  After everyone has collaborated and shared their ideas and research, we have a question and answer time.  Sometimes I ask them to ask me questions, and I answer.  Other times, I ask questions and ask for volunteers to answer each question, and the last setup is where I split them back in groups and make each group come up with a set number of questions to ask other groups, and have them answer each others’ questions.  This is generally how we cover the information and the content pertaining to each objective.  Once I feel like the class has a good understanding of the general idea of the topics, we normally more to the hands on, lab section.  This is where we spend most of our time as a class.  We practice putting all of the ideas and questions we have shared to real life practice.  If we are covering calibrations, we divide into groups and calibrate transmitters.  If we are talking about valves and actuators, we split up and drive signals to actuators and verify their proper positions.  If we are covering P&ID symbols and reading, we walk through our mock units and find missing information from our P&IDs.  I try to spend as much time as possible allowing my students to complete hands on experiments. I tell my students on a daily basis that memorization leads to tunnel vision, and tunnel vision takes out the ability to observe your surroundings.  The first day that one of my students walks out on the job site with a memorized list of steps in their head, and completes that list without paying attention to what may have changed, or what could be different, could be the factor to whether they go home in the same state that they came to work in that morning!  So not only do I want my students to learn for their own personal growth, but I am passionate about them knowing, understanding, and comprehending the material to protect them and everyone who will be working around them in the future!  Because of this, you will not find multiple choice, true-false, or definition tests in my classroom.

As an employee in the industrial field before I started teaching, I took pride in completing work in the safest, most cautious manner I could, every time! Not only did I pay attention to what I was doing, but I also was very aware and extremely observant to anyone and anything that was going on around me.  If someone was doing something that I was not comfortable with, I would always step up, ask questions, offer help, and raise awareness.  This did not go unnoticed.  I have not been teaching very long, I have not received any special awards or honors, but I feel like I have achieved a few personal accomplishments by my working connections and contacts that I have brought to my students.   Because of my safe work habits and my strong work ethics, I have had several people from the industry come to me and ask me about students for potential employees.  I feel like having people trust my recommendations on who would be a good employee is something that I am able to offer my students who truly shine in the classroom.  I am pleased to say that I had a major oil and gas company, Valero Pipeline, contact me asking for recommendations for good employees.  The job was posted publicly on the internet through several job search links.  I sent three of my students their way.  All three students were called for interviews and testing, and two were hired to fill their two open positions!  By no means am I trying to take full credit for them receiving job offers, but I am proud that I was able to send them in the right direction, and help them begin the start to what is hopefully their long, successful career!


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