Teaching Philosophy

David Harris

There is no position more important in this life than that of a teacher. A teacher can make the difference in the life of a student for better or for worse. I take my role as teacher very seriously and seek to perfect my abilities with every opportunity I have to teach. Although perfection will never, truly, be reached, students benefit from a teacher who seeks to understand the needs of each student. I base my teaching philosophy on this premise: All students should have the opportunity to obtain the blessings of knowledge that will aid them on their quest through life. I seek to bless the lives of my students in three specific ways: teaching students how to be lifelong learners and critical thinkers, providing a source of strength and example while teaching students how media can enrich this strength, and finally, demonstrating an attitude of service. By staying committed to this philosophy, I have been blessed with success as I see the successes of my students.

The university experience is one of quick-paced learning, yet the learning students experience during their time in school should only be a springboard to lifelong learning. As I teach, I instill in my students my passion for learning and my love for knowledge. A major way I do this is to stay excited through the entire class. I can’t help but demonstrate my love for the subject matter as I roam about the entire classroom, raising my voice when the content gets especially exciting, and providing examples from daily life as object lessons. I learned this lesson early on in my teaching career: If you are excited about what you are teaching, your learners will be excited, too. Since I truly love my area of study, this is easy. My goal in every class is to have the students wonder how the time went so quickly and keep them hungry for the next meeting. By so doing, they will continue their quest for knowledge even after they graduate. But, this is only half of the story. Students also need to think critically as they evaluate the world around them. When students ask questions in a course setting, I will, in most cases, ask a question in return. My goal is to help the student work out their own answer. This makes the answer more meaningful and helps the student know that careful thought can lead to answers without having to ask a question. I have a deep love for the Socratic Method because I believe it teaches students critical thinking.

In a world where media are widespread and prevalent, students must understand the role of media in their lives and the role they can play in enhancing media. Media are continuously given a bad rap. While it is true that media can be a source of negativity, experts and students stand at the forefront of an opportunity to use the power of media for good. We can enhance the lives of a vast number of people. I demonstrate to students how this can be done. Drawing on 20 years’ experience in television/video production, I use examples that resonate with students in today’s world. The highlight of these types of discussions is to help the students understand that media can be powerful and can be used by each one of them to further their strengths, or less desirably and if they are not careful, their weaknesses.

I consider the role of teacher to be a role of service. While it is true that teachers must earn a living, I consider my passion for teaching to be well beyond a monetary need. In the past two years, I have logged an average of 20 hours per week working with students on various projects and productions. This service was outside of the standard volunteer and work time required by the university. I do this because I love my students, and I love what I am teaching. Coming from outside of academia, I am used to hard work and long hours. On a regular basis throughout my career, I have answered students’ questions on evenings and weekends. I find that this is when students do much of their work and have many of their questions. I find no problem in quickly sending an answer via e-mail to a student who is stuck on an assignment. I find joy in providing service to my students.

Through these main ideals—making students lifelong learners and critical thinkers, providing strength and showing how media can increase this strength, and demonstrating an attitude of service—I aim for the success of my students. It is through their success that I gauge my own success. I consider my students to be like my flock. I am the shepherd leading them and guiding them, but it is through their own work and effort that they become successful. I have been characterized by more than one student as “tough but fair.” I believe this is exactly how a teacher should be. Each time I hear of a student realizing their goals and ambitions, I consider myself lucky to have had the opportunity to teach.