I have identified a variety of characteristics that contribute to being an effective educator through my personal experiences, academic studies and classroom observations. I believe the most important characteristic of an educator is the ability to build trust with students. This is the foundation to learning and can be achieved through a visible commitment to student growth. It can also be as simple as engaging students in conversation and offering positive reinforcement. I experienced these positive relationships in my own academic experience. The most influential educators in my schooling were those who took the time to develop meaningful relationships. These relationships were built from a variety of factors ranging from asking “how was my weekend?” to talking with me after class to gain a better understanding of recent struggles and how they could help. I truly believe it is the commitment and trust of each student that creates an optimal environment for learning.
Another component that I find instrumental to effective teaching is self-evaluation and adaptability. It is vital for educators to consistently evaluate their own teaching to ensure students are reaching their potential. I worked as an Account Manager for CBS Radio and I was told by my manager that “we have two ears and one mouth for a reason.” I believe this resonates and applies to teaching as well. It’s a teacher’s responsibility to listen and observe students consistently with the ability to adapt when needed. For example, effective educators will reorganize curriculum when they observe gaps in understanding. Also, it applies to listening to students needs and asking questions to encourage deeper content knowledge.
In addition to trust and adaptability, effective teachers have the ability to relate and connect content with student’s lives. This commitment to deliberate instruction results in long-term learning and allows students to apply classroom content to external situations. This approach was made clear to me at Gonzaga University in a philosophy course titled “Practical Wisdom.” My professor challenged us to relate the works of influential minds, such as, John Stuart Mills, Niccolò Machiavelli, and Aristotle to our own lives. This engaged me in the content and facilitated long-term knowledge that has stayed with me years after the course.
Lastly, I am excited to further my teaching philosophy through the Seattle Pacific University ARC/MAT program and my student teaching experience. There is no other way to become an effective teacher than being in the classroom and continually learning. There will be many valuable lessons I learn over the next year that will expose many other fundamental characteristics that compose my philosophy of an effective educator.