Jennifer Charlotte Saldanha
Concept of learning
From a young age, my parents and teachers have instilled in me a spirit of volunteering and giving back to society, and that passion drives me to use my talents to empower students for future engineering careers through education and research. I am very much invigorated by enabling a student to grasp a concept and overcome a challenge, and nothing is more satisfying to me than witnessing their boost in confidence from enriched understanding. This sense of making an impact on individuals’ lives has driven me to become a professor in engineering. Through my many classroom experiences both as a student and a teacher, I have developed a sense for teaching techniques that effectively empower students and create a desire for learning.
I believe that we, teachers are all engaged in the continuous learning process, a fundamental way of sharing ideas, perspectives, and experiences, and of giving and receiving counsel.The main role of the teacher remains to be guidance given to the students, while allowing them to discover the “facts for themselves.
Concept of teaching
A good teacher cannot begin or continue to inspire learning without being a learner. The good teacher must constantly learn what is new in the discipline. In fact, the good teacher often helps to create new knowledge. To live this belief, I must continuously examine my teaching methods and find new ones.
Despite writing a teaching philosophy, I really prefer to think about learning and helping others learn as opposed to teaching. I believe many of us have come to accept a working definition that teaching means giving information, which I believe is only the beginning of teaching and certainly only a small part of learning. When one gives information, it is so easy to equate learning with the memorization of that information. Memorization is not always learning because learning requires thinking. I am beginning to understand that the teacher’s greatest gift to the learner is helping the learner be motivated to think, and then to want to learn more.
I know that students do not all learn in the same way or at the same rate. I believe it is my responsibility as a teacher to be an effective diagnostician of students’ interests, abilities, and prior knowledge. I must then plan learning experiences that will both challenge and allow every student to think and grow.
I know most learning happens through social interaction; therefore, I structure learning so that students productively collaborate and cooperate with each other the vast majority of class time. I use my knowledge of the discipline to expose my students to modes of critical thinking, encouraging them to analyze, apply, synthesize, and evaluate all they read and hear. I love the subjects I teach, and I know how to make them come alive for my students. I use visual aids which will help students to grasp the idea clearly. I pay particular attention to weak students as their successful learning would finally indicate my success of a good teacher. I further believe that effective learning comes from interactive teaching which must be made interesting to the students, and the best pedagogic encounter is questions from everyone rather than just answering to all.
Goals for students
Beyond striving to ensure that students learn the fundamental content of the courses I teach, my objectives as a university teacher are as follows: (a) to foster critical thinking skills; (b) to facilitate the acquisition of lifelong learning skills; (c) to help students develop evidence-based clinical problem-solving strategies; and (d) to prepare students to function as highly skilled and competent in the area of interest. Furthermore, my overall teaching philosophy is based on two principles, which are supported extensively in the literature: (a) active student learning strongly influences student-learning outcomes; and (b) assessment procedures strongly influence student acquisition of knowledge.
Interaction with students
I believe a teacher is the most powerful of role models. I am ever aware of the awesome obligation I have to “walk my talk” with my students. If I ask them to live their values and beliefs, I must do the same. I expect the best — of myself and others — and, therefore, I usually get the best. I try to treat all people with dignity and respect, and I expect my students to do so also.
To create a safe learning environment, I encourage students to ask questions and give their views on the material we are covering. I solicit anonymous feedback in the form of “one-minute papers” from my students about assignments as well as my teaching style, and I then implement student suggestions to improve my service delivery and their learning outcomes. I create assignments that improve students’ problem-solving and critical thinking skills, I utilize small-group discussions both to actively involve the students in their own learning as well as to improve their critical thinking skills.
I chose an academic career because I want to develop new knowledge through research, as well as contribute to my field and society by training top-rate students. There appears to be no single perfect method for teaching, and an important aspect of teaching seems to be identifying the approach, which works best for a given individual. While I believe my teaching has been successful, I also recognize that I have much to learn from my colleagues and students. I look forward to continuing teaching, research, and research training and learning from my students and peers along the way.
Finally, I believe a teacher lives to serve. A teacher is dedicated to learning, to his or her discipline, to his or her students, and to making the future the best possible place for all of us to live. These are the challenges I accepted when I chose to be a teacher. I remain committed to them.