First, and foremost, I always treat my students with dignity and respect. I strive to avoid patronizing or talking down to you in any way. I truly believe that you and I share the same "journey" and that I am the "leader" only by virtue of my enhanced focus on and experience with the subjects at hand. I accept that I have students who are smarter than I am and treat every course as a personal learning opportunity.
I do not try to be all things for all students. I find that students appreciate accomplishing more than they expect that they can, and that high expectations generally yield high rewards. The key is to facilitate success against expectations by providing the tools and encouragement necessary to succeed. To some extent, the necessary support is specific to each student, however most students respond well to (1) encouragement and support for asking questions, (2) not making judgments (implied or explicit) about their confusion or concerns, and (3) timely responses to all inquiries. I think the common thread here is to let students know very clearly that you are committed to and care about their individual success. This helps them tolerate the "healthy confusion" that is such an important part of the learning/discovery process.
I try to maintain an atmosphere of discovery. This is especially important when the subject matter is difficult (either real or perceived) or when students' anxiety is raised for any reason. I feel that "discovery" and "learning" are synonymous.
I tailor my methods to the needs of each student. Sometimes I understand students' needs very quickly, and sometimes it takes a little more interaction. In all cases, I avoid simply "giving the answer." Learning takes place more effectively when students achieve the "a-ha" moment independently.
In general, I see my role more as a "coach" than a teacher. I am dedicated to student success, and will do all I can to help them achieve.
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