Introduction to My Theory of Teaching
This article is a summary of my approach to teaching. It contains principles, theories, strategies, and behaviors that I have integrated and will integrate into my teaching. The purpose of this essay is to weave together ideas, which explain how I approach my work and what one would be likely to see if one were to watch me teach. The main idea of teaching is to inspire self-motivated growth through realizations, resulting from understanding and relating to the students and their needs and strengths while conveying the required material.
Clear, profound ideas
My theory of teaching incorporates these ideas at its foundation: I recommend the teacher to…
- Create a professional relationship with the students.
- Understand the students and trigger their intrinsic motivation.
- Condition learning through channels students are familiar with and those that work best for them.
- Present and cover required content in a way that is easy and fun to absorb.
- Inspire to apply, express and experience knowledge in various ways in order to build and condition ownership.
Create a professional relationship with the students
By building relationships with the students, the teacher can create positive learning results and make the path much more enjoyable for both the teacher and the students. Most of the classroom management problems will go away when the relationships are properly built. It is important to know that the relationship between student and teacher is professional in nature. It is not a friendship. The teacher needs to set expectations or rules up front on how the class works and convey that deviation from the rules has consequences. Clarity with this alone will solve most of the problems. With clear rules, classroom management does not take as much attention. As a result, the main focus can be on presenting and absorbing knowledge. For example, I like to begin any teaching by discussing with my students what rules should govern our classroom.
Understand the students and trigger their intrinsic motivation
In order to foster a proper teacher-student relationship, it is important for the teacher to pay attention to the students’ strengths, interests, and areas of growth, and express a genuine interest in them. Interests can be used to trigger intrinsic motivation. Strengths can help find suitable learning modalities. Weaknesses are good to know to work around them or through them. Understanding students establishes receptivity which is necessary for learning(Maharishi’s 5 fundamentals of learning). For example, I like to consider different learning styles I have observed in my students when presenting content and when planning and conducting exercises.
Condition learning through channels they are familiar with and work best
If students can’t focus on the material, this seems to work every time: By using the identified strengths and by working around the identified weaknesses, students’ attention can be directed toward learning experiences and achieve the goals set by the standards. By leveraging learning patterns that are already working, students get success experiences, become better learners and can overcome the challenges they might have had in other learning patterns. For example, I like to provide exercises using technologies students are already familiar with. In another example, I directed a very restless class by using their restlessness in a creative way. I gave them a computer to follow my lecture with. As a result, they could use their restless energy in going through the course material. In yet another example, I provided different avenues for learning. YouTube videos, presentation, work on the white board (to which most of the students were conditioned to), homework, and teamwork. Depending on the class and how the students were used to behaving in the class, I used those modalities and behaviors as a basis for emphasis in my teaching style for these particular sets of students.
Present/cover required content in a way that is easy and fun to absorb
Disciplinary standards need to be met. Teaching methods can be student centered while fulfilling the requirements set by the state standards. Teaching methods that consider learner differences can make the learning fun while fulfilling the standards and covering all of the content students need to learn. For example, I like to use YouTube videos relevant to the topics defined by standards.
Inspire to apply, express, and experience knowledge in various ways to build and condition ownership
Owning the knowledge is important because it changes the way we view the world and our lives. In my web-article Neurophysiology of Progress and Success I covered how all learning, actions and experiences rewire the brain for new kind of perception of the world. In accordance with Maharishi’s principles of ideal teaching, but enhanced by myself to fit the larger scientific framework, the sequence of conditioning for rewiring the brain is: hear it, say it, write it, express it, and experience it. This sequence of conditioning starts from sensory perception areas of the brain, moving through linguistic areas of the brain that control patterns and ending up with most concrete physical motion. Thus, recommendations of the principles of teaching helps to condition and re-wire the brain for a new kind of perception and experience of the world. Therefore, it’s not only about the memory, it’s also about getting the learning to “muscle memory”. Conditioning not only changes thinking patterns, but it also changes patterns of behavior.
For instance, I like to let students create projects where they present the knowledge of a subject matter in various ways, conditioning their learning into an ownership. I try to incorporate elements of research, teamwork, writing, teaching, expressing and experiencing the topic.
Example of this example would be a student who designs and makes a video on Roman Empire’s cultural elements. They will first research what they are, what their relevance is, find a way to represent it, consult the teacher and the team in the process. In the end he or she will present verbally what the presentation is about and may even request other students to do some writing work. The video itself will be an experience. In this example, both the presenting student and the other students went through series of experiences, cultivating different parts of the brain, conditioning learning and owning the knowledge, in total alignment with the neurological re-wiring discussed in this chapter.
The results of my theory of teaching
If these steps are followed, the learning process is driven by motivation and inspiration. Consequently knowledge and skills become conditioned as part of students’ perception and experience of life, increasing quality of life. The best learning alters one’s view of the world with new perspectives and details. It’s not just memorizing facts; it’s a life changing experience. Literally. For the applied proof of these theories, see the evidence.
The above paragraphs describe and summarize the core strategy of my approach to teaching. I have integrated several methodologies, principles and applied theories that support my core strategy. These include:
- Maharishi’s 5 fundamentals of teaching and principles of ideal teaching.
- Principles, strategies and behaviors from Love and Logic.
- I also like involving developmental theories, need structures, motivational theories and other material from theorists like Maslow, Robbins, Brizendine, Travis, Kelly, Lipsitz, Jones, Piaget, Kohlberg, Gibbs and Loevinger.
In my theory of teaching, you will find dozens of theories that I have integrated into it, and will integrate into my approach to teaching. I love how all of these theories and principles weave together to create a framework for teaching through which my students can gain most benefit. Understanding that consciousness and intelligence are at the basis of all knowledge and behavior made it easier to integrate various strategies and theories to support more holistic approach to teaching and learning.
In my own neurophysiology and experience, these theories and strategies have positively altered my brain and my behavior. Now I view the world with more depth and behave more effectively in the world. I truly believe I have become a real-world example of what I teach. Knowledge is alive in me: I live it, I breathe, and I own it.
My focus and intention as a teacher is to share this approach teaching and experience of learning so students can benefit from that in their own lives and careers. This is not boasting, just a statement of intention of the positive result and effect I intend to have on my students.