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My Teaching Philosophy

I love being an instructor because the classroom is where I am able to facilitate a learning environment for students to comprehend, explore, analyze, and debate concepts that will further their careers. Moreover, providing instruction is a way for me to give back to the community and support individuals who want to learn. Furthermore, teaching is an excellent forum to encourage students to believe in themselves, to think outside the box, and take what they learn from my courses and apply it to the real world. I enjoy playing a role in my students’ educational careers and to watch them go on to achieve their goals and dreams. My motto is “I hope, I believe, I succeed.”

Nevertheless, I enjoy learning from my students as well. I learn every time I have a new class and a new diverse student body. Diversity allows me to learn about individuals’ cultures, customs, and ideologies, and their distinctive backgrounds.

I hope to create a positive learning environment in my classroom by letting my students know that each one of them is unique as a result of their diverse backgrounds and life experiences. I encourage all of my students to share their thoughts and ideas when discussing class concepts or case studies because their perspective will enhance the learning process and encourage critical thinking by all students. For example, students many times will not ask questions because they feel if they ask questions it may show lack of intelligence or a sense of not being prepared. However, I continually emphasize that education is about questioning everything, taking what you learn, and exploring all aspects of a topic. I hope my students obtain the sentiment that education is power and the more they know, the more they can challenge, and the more they can challenge, the more they can implement change. Thus, the way to achieve knowledge is to first raise questions. Furthermore, no question is a bad question because most likely many students have the same question, but may be afraid to ask it. Lastly, I make sure to speak to my students directly and not to talk down to them in any fashion.

My teaching is based on the Socratic Method which encourages learning through inquiry and debate, including answering questions with questions. I believe the Socratic Method stimulates critical thinking and emphasizes class concepts and case studies for students in an effective manner. Moreover, I use opposing viewpoints and outside the box thinking to introduce various stances and thoughts on the concept/s being discussed. I keep in mind, as a trial lawyer would, when presenting information, the lawyer needs to keep the jury involved and stimulated. Although, not a trial, my methods in a classroom resemble a trial which can involve direct and cross examination questioning and analysis, using the classroom as my court room, and using visual aids to support my students’ learning experiences.

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In order to further promote participation in the classroom I use the lecture format in the Socratic Method for a part of each individual class; however, I do not like to just “present” information to the student. “Role Playing” is an effective method to get my students involved. For example, I will lecture for a part of class and then enhance learning by having my students act as a Manager, President or the Board of Directors of a Corporation and have them apply the concepts from the lecture to the various hypotheticals I pose. Additionally, the method of “Return Demonstration” allows the student to accurately apply the concepts to case studies from the text or case studies I draft for class discussion. Another method I use is “Class Debate”. For example, I will break my students up into different teams and have one team argue for the Consumer and the other team argue for the Corporation in a products liability case. If the class is big enough, I would further break teams up into a Judge and a Jury team. In the many classes I have taught, a four hour class can seem long or it can go by quickly for the students depending on the whether the instructor implements various methods of teaching or not. I recognize that keeping my students attention and stimulating their learning experience does not fare well with four hours of just lecturing. Rather, using various methods of teaching, not only allows all students to participate, it keeps them learning and keeps them inspired.

Thomas Groome writes in his book, Educating for Life: A Spiritual Vision for Every Teacher and Parent that “educators should cooperate with the learner as a question raiser, coach, companion, and friend; always addressing interests, suggesting connections, encouraging reflection, giving examples, using imagery, inviting decision, and making connections with prior knowledge and experience.”

I promote “outside the box thinking.” I strive to have my students think creatively and use their ideas to promote them selves in an original, unique, valuable way. For example, I like to bring in guest speakers if the class agenda is appropriate who used “outside the box thinking.” The guest speakers I bring in are individuals who, once students themselves, are now CEOs, Presidents, or successful Business Entrepreneurs who thought “outside-the-box.” These guest speakers used their education to further their career and used creative, critical thinking to get where they are today. I coordinate with my guest speakers to incorporate the class concepts that need to be discussed on this particular class agenda and how it works in the real world and how the guest speaker can provide his or her real world examples.

In my teaching experience, students like to see the text book concepts work in the day-to-day business world. I believe bringing in successful guest speakers support my statements, that “believing in yourself and applying yourself will get you to where you want to go. Education is the foundation of advancing yourself.” The guest speakers are proof that my statements hold true. Furthermore, as I discuss class concepts from the text, I like to bring in real-world examples from the news and have the students analyze the real world issue by applying the class concepts to the current event.

In addition to the aforementioned methods I use to promote participation, I have my students give presentations to the class concerning particular subjects from the class textbook. The students deliver a 10-15 minute Powerpoint presentation, as is often done in the real world, concerning an important legal and/or business issue or risk that managers need to be fully informed of in order to make a sound decision. As the students give their presentation, I challenge my students, as a boss would, and ask many questions hoping my students can show me they are fully prepared. In sum, I like to use the classroom not only to lecture, but to simulate the real world.

I place myself by my students’ sides, letting them know that as we discuss a current event I, as the instructor, will “direct the educational process”; however, as the student, I look for them to challenge me as I explore and discuss one particular analysis to the next particular analysis. I provide direction and the students provide the answers. Most importantly, I apply Groome’s theories because educating students should give the students a feeling of dignity when they are being taught. I let my students know that I am their professor in class; however, I continue to be their professor even when class ends.

I look for my students to challenge me and when confronted by opposition from a particular student, I welcome it. I ask students to challenge me as a boss who wants to be challenged by his employees. I make clear to my students that no boss wants to be surrounded by “yes” individuals all the time. As I introduce concepts, I look for my students to challenge the theories or arguments I present. I remind students that it is ok to disagree, as long as it is done in a respectful way.

I recognize that my students have a life outside of the classroom and many factors might play a role in why students are anxious or apprehensive about taking a class. For example, the student may have had an adverse experience with an instructor in the past or the student may need or desire an “A” in this particular class. For whatever reason the student is concerned, I will go out of my way to meet with the student alone and to get a better sense of why the student feels a certain way. Once, I, as the instructor, show the concerned student that I care and want the learning process to be rewarding and enjoyable for him or her, I rarely have a student remain concerned about class.

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