I have taught at the undergraduate and graduate level as an ROTC instructor and adjunct faculty. I have trained physicians and nurses in healthcare information technology as a corporate trainer. I have managed faculty in higher education at Grantham University. I have managed associate development at Cerner Corporation. I have designed training courses in industry and curriculum in higher education. I have studied adult learning theories and instructional design theories. I have even attempted to create perfect stand alone computer-based training programs. Despite all this experience I am still learning how people learn and it continues to amaze me.
The more I learn the more I realize that teaching need not be overly complex and does not have to adhere exactly to one learning theory or another. To be successful, however, it does have to recognize that the center of teaching is the learner and not the instructor. I don’t enjoy lecturing and prefer to facilitate. I believe that coaching and mentoring creates better learning opportunities then instructing.
In my courses I place the individual student at the center of the process. I have found that following some simple principles helps accomplish this. I believe the learning has to be relevant. Theory is important and when necessary I cover it, but helping students recognize the applications of the concepts is paramount. I believe that students learn best through life experiences and that learning is real-time. I like practicums and engaging scenarios along with substantive interaction between students as well as between individual students and me. I like to engage students in reflections to improve retention on the concepts they have learned.
I enlisted in the Air Force shortly after graduating from high school. I achieved all my degrees as a working adult while raising a family and traveling the world on military assignments. I know firsthand the challenges of work-life balance. I have always tried to be principle-based, rather than rules-based, in my treatment of students. When students are having time challenges in completing assignments I look for a solution that benefits the student while maintaining academic integrity and I consider these opportunities as learning experiences for students.
I value Education through online modalities which allow working adults the opportunity to pursue their education at times most convenient to them. The technology and the opportunities do not, however, guarantee student success. Critical to the process are the frequent touch-points; the interactions between teacher and student. The interactions must be genuine and meaningful to students. They must be specific and relative to their learning. I always ensured that online courses I developed had frequent touch-points and substantive interaction in order to help students be successful.
Finally, I believe that all lessons are but steps toward a life goal. Each course is a step toward a student’s program plan. The lessons and the courses have to be linked to larger strategic outcomes. It is important for me as the teacher to understand the context of the lessons I deliver, both within the program plan and the student’s individual education plan. In doing so, I can advise and help guide students as they navigate their way toward their goals. My teaching philosophy in practice is a combination of coaching, consulting, guiding, advising, listening, and helping.