Philosophy of Teaching Statement
Teaching has played an integral part of my career at NYU, both as a Masters student of biology and a Ph.D. candidate of chemistry. I have always been interested in the diversity of ways in which people process and internalize information, and the challenges that come with accommodating these different learning styles within the classroom. In this regard I have long considered graduate students to be in a uniquely effective position as educators; As students ourselves we are still developing the habits and strategies with which we learn, and can to some degree recall the experience of learning the information that we now teach. This degree of relatability towards one’s students can be extremely useful in effectively conveying information to them.
It has been my impression that the less effective teachers of my past have taught almost as if their students already knew the material, often glossing over simpler and more fundamental concepts even as they used them to explain more complex information. I believe that this kind of oversight in education arises because we as instructors eventually can simply no longer understand what it is like to not know the material. Equally important to what is taught in the classroom is the consideration of how the material is taught, and effective presentation can become difficult when the information becomes second nature to the instructor. A great challenge for me, then, as I have progressed through my graduate career and transitioned from student to educator, has been how to retain an appreciation for the educational level of the student.
I believe that this challenge is best addressed through the continuous deconstruction and reprocessing of the material. For each semester I revisit the resources the students are learning from, and consider the different ways in which the material can be interpreted and expressed. My lectures are not simple recitals of the material, but are instead in a sense attempts to teach myself these concepts along with my students. I think such a strategy not only leads to a more effective lesson plan, but additionally makes the instructor far more relatable to their students. When a student can sense a teacher’s desire to not simply be a figure of authority but rather to learn alongside them, they are more willing open up, and give the effort to meet that teacher halfway.
Thank you for your consideration