The philosophy of teaching I have embraced in thirty years of teaching medical students and college students is based on the belief that learning is student centered and that students need to be equal partners in the learning process. There must be present, a student mentor relationship of trust. There should, however, always be an authoritative presence in the mentor. This leadership should be omnipresent, whether in the classroom, tutorship, or online. The mentoring teacher’s role involves using his expertise to place necessary resources in the hands of the student and to train him to be not just knowledgeable in his chosen fields of study, but to become an expert at resourcefulness and seek the role of “teacher" himself. It is here where leadership is taught through example.
Now that the majority of teaching is performed on an online forum, students now know that the teacher’s role in the online classroom is to be a facilitator, in addition to being a provider of information. As with my on campus students and students whom I tutor, I create multiple discussion questions to keep the online discussion exciting and stimulating, and to address the multiple backgrounds and interests of my learners. With all pupils, I provide ongoing rhetorical, written, auditory, and visual illustration in my classroom environment, particularly in Anatomy and Physiology as well as Microbiology, Hematology, Neurology, and Clinical Chemistry, in addition to General Biology. I am always there to support them as they seek their answers, and encourage them to work together to get the most out of their learning. Detailed descriptions of writing assignments should always be provided so that students are able to see how a good finished product shines.
To me, the most important skills that I can help a student develop are the skills of observational resourcefulness and abstraction. This incorporates their ability to critically think about the information sought, and writing cohesively as to reveal their own expertise when studying the medical sciences and biology. This didactic experience moves the student easily into the domain of the practicing clinician or professional biologist. Every course I teach is seen through the lens of objective information processing and critical thinking skills needed to be effective in the practice of science.
I am passionate about the use of writing skills as a technique in teaching students to be more aware of their thinking and to be careful and reasoned in their acceptance of new scientific information. If they leave me with a healthy skepticism of information and the skill to use technology to access better evidence, I will have accomplished my goal, and know that I have helped produce another professional.