Mr. Berkowitz’s' Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy is very simple; provide my students with the knowledge they need to increase their career and technical skills, to allow them to successfully utilize those skills to obtain a high wage, high skill job.
So how do I utilize my teaching philosophy in the classroom? First, I try to remember that I am teaching kids, more specifically teenagers. Teenagers as we all know have a very limited attention span. They are also more often concerned with what is going on outside my lab, than inside my lab. So how do I bring the focus back inside my lab? I bring the reality of the Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning industry in to the lab through my weekly warm up exercise. Let me explain. We start each day with a classroom meeting to discuss the projects and tasks they are working on. On a weekly schedule, we discuss local job opportunities and upcoming construction projects announced in job files, newspapers, and trade publications. We identify the components necessary to complete the job and then I ask my students to estimate the cost of the job. One or two students briefly explain their estimations and the class decides if they are on target. I try to use my industry experience to guide and enhance this exercise. I detail jobs I have work on and the tools and processes I used to successful complete the job. Often the students bring in jobs they find or have helped with and want to discuss. The warm up project is also incorporated into my lab work by having the students design and build some component of the HVAC/R system we just estimated.
I emphasize a relaxed and informal atmosphere and encourage students to work and help each other in groups of no more than four students and of course, they may work and are sometimes required to work individually. I strongly advocate tasks in the lab and activities that involve students in groups, and other tasks to work independently. This provides students with vital opportunities to effectively troubleshoot as a team, and yet affords each of them the maximum learning experience. When they work individually, they get a sense of accomplishment and share it with the others. I encourage my students to question and challenge existing concepts and processes and to try to improve upon them.
My teaching philosophy is not to solely teach out of a textbook. I believe in utilizing all of my available resources. I feel it is imperative to use hands-on exercises, integrating Math, English, and Science strategies in the form of worksheets and handouts. In addition to teaching Heating/Air Conditioning & Refrigeration, I teach them how to use their logical thinking and comprehension skills, along with their soft skills. My students hear me say, gather your facts, analyze the situation, and then act, so much I think they are writing a rap song about me!
In my lab, students get more value out of the "hands on" approach to troubleshooting and installing equipment, rather than all of the theory classes put together! I explain to the students, that I have high hopes and expectations for each of them, and that they are smart enough to learn and accomplish the work that I put in front of them. I tell them to “accept the challenge and succeed!” A good Instructor needs to be receptive to the needs and problems of the students and to be able to know when to listen and not speak.
I try to identify the students by their full names and know something about their home life, and school life. I obtain most of this information in a simple fashion, via an initial survey and countless interactions with students and their families. During my lab hours and afterhours, my students and families are always welcome to talk to or email me if they need additional help, or updates on their student.
Both students and parents receive an explanation of the course materials, grading policies, behavior expectations, and other guidelines during rotations and throughout the year. This is also listed on the bulletin board and website. I believe my students know they will be treated with respect and will receive a fair and consistent treatment. I would go to bat for those students who chose to participate in the lab.
On a personal note: I also attend and integrate all the information gathered from the professional development activities that I am a part of, and always keeping abreast of new technologies and methods.