“As the School of Business in a Franciscan, Catholic, and liberal arts college, we place paramount importance on teaching. We prepare our students with the analytic, communication, leadership, teamwork and learning skills necessary to help their organizations solve complex problems while thoughtfully considering the impact on all stakeholders and the natural world.” -School of Business Mission Statement
From this statement comes my conviction and enthusiastic acceptance to the Siena commitment that an educator’s first priority is teaching. Though my belief is that most of the learning experience comes outside of the classroom, as a lecturer, we must first clarify and make understandable complex concepts for our students; that while it is important in being an effective speaker, it may be more critical to be a good listener; while it is important to hold students to high standards, it is noteworthy to make education learner-centered; though direct experience shape individual understanding, active student engagement is necessary for elevated learning to exist.
My belief is that prior notable auditing, accounting and business practice experience and some preliminary college related teaching involvement enables [me] to bring invaluable knowledge to the classroom through enhancement to lectures that incorporate theory and practice applicable to situations that arise on most days in the world of accountancy. My Epistemology, with regards to its method, validity and scope is rooted in John Dewey’s Statement on Pragmatism – a philosophical tradition centered on the linking of theory and practice, a process where theory is extracted from practice and applied back to practice to form what is called intelligent practice; as well as an existential approach – with lived human experience being more important than abstract reasoning as a guide to truth.
Furthermore, among the essential characteristics of advanced education, that prepares graduates for life in the twenty-first century, engaged learning is as important as any other – balanced breadth and scope, complexity in reasoning, analytics, critical though, analytics, skepticism, speculation, judgment are essential characteristics - based on an exchange, not of facts, but of ideas.
To often, it seems, teaching is assumed to be a one-way flow from instructor to students. I have found that the most effective way to promote learning is to involve students, to make them, in a sense ‘responsible for their own learning’. To facilitate this process it is extremely beneficial to have students assigned ‘case problems’, research projects, and group problems which allows them to present their findings in groups, empowering them to guide the discussion – I have found that a number of normally reluctant participants begin to become more ‘vocal’ after this type of student engagement! – I continue to strive in seeking other student centered methods to further engage students as much as possible, while keeping the discussion focused; after all, just because a debate is lively does not mean that anyone is learning anything.
As a final and indispensable point are my views on self-improvement. I firmly believe that any effective teacher remains a good student throughout life. Self-evaluations (assessments) occur every time a class is held – this self-reflection includes assessing how well the material was presented; what students’ reactions to the material were; developing ideas on how to improve on presentations to maintain student interest. I believe that taking the time to rewrite lectures, add/delete material, revising lesson plans, improve on slides, and adjustments to testing is something completed on a regular basis. Knowing that self-reflection has its limits; other steps taken in continuing to improve my skills as a teacher include; talking with experienced professors and other instructors for advice, keeping up on current issues, refreshing my knowledge of the subject being taught, and using student evaluations to inform me of areas for improvement.