LeNa` Powe McDonald’s Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Philosophy

As a result of an ever changing social and political climate, I strive to use my professional and educational background, skills and training to support a learning environment that is open to interdisciplinary, traditional and scientific methods of obtaining knowledge. There is increasingly becoming a need for students to be prepared with both academic knowledge and practical professional experiences and skills. I believe that the classroom should be an arena that supports and provides opportunities for students to both learn and introduce knowledge through presenting arguments and theory through experiences and activities that are beneficial in the classroom and in business and industry.

I want to ensure that students have the opportunity to find value in every assignment and class session and that value should translate to information and activities that build both the student’s academic and professional portfolios. In an effort to create an environment that supports research and cultivates knowledge, theory, academic journals and other scholarly sources are used along with the opportunity to put that knowledge to use both in and out of the classroom through structured assignments. As an educator I believe that it is incumbent upon me to create a professional environment that encourages respectful interaction and equal investment from all participants.

During my undergraduate career I flourished when I began to think of my academic work as a business. By treating my assignment due dates as deadlines, my research projects as proposals and arguments and my transcript management as a way to advance and increase my investment in my education, I was able to gain a deeper appreciation for education and higher learning. It is through that lens that I view the educational experience. My class is designed help prepare students to continue their academic careers, but also introduces to some a corporate like environment that appreciates ambition, initiative and interpersonal skills. Students should be able to learn and teach and understand that the value of their education and degrees are in their control, however, I consider it my purpose to be a facilitator who provides the environment, opportunity and academic knowledge that will support students meeting their individual goals and objectives.

Objectives

  • Be able to successfully communicate the theories, readings and concepts introduced through verbal and written opportunities.
  • Provide and environment that supports professional development inside the classroom.
  • Establish a rapport with students that makes learning interactive and participatory.
  • Provide tools that will assist students with transitioning skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to their future and current careers.IMG_1977

9 thoughts on “LeNa` Powe McDonald’s Teaching Philosophy”

  1. LeNa`,

    I appreciated your focus on pedagogy as a means of transitioning students into professional and business contexts. I came late to these strategies in my own practice, but teaching a technical writing class gave me an unexpected insight into my students’ professional ambitions. I wish, in retrospect, that I’d emphasized the usefulness of written communication in the business world in my freshman comp classes, and I’d love to hear more about how you integrate these concerns into your pedagogy.

    My own disciplinary background didn’t always make it easy to think of academic pursuits in terms of business opportunities, so I sometimes struggled to engage with students whose personal learning outcomes were bound up with their professional aspirations. Having said that, I tried to stress transferable skills and the importance of critical approaches to texts–theoretical and otherwise–to future success. Did you adopt this attitude to popular, as well as scholarly, sources? I’d be intrigued to hear about your experiences in this arena.

    Thanks so much for giving me a look at this perspective!

    Kit

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    1. Kit,

      In Communication, particularly social outreach and political communication current events are helpful (or maybe hurtful depending on the climate) in providing context. I often use newspaper articles or segments to help give real world examples. Also, when dealing with the interpersonal side of communication magazine and newspaper articles assessing or describing relationships, nonverbal communication or just communication in general prove helpful.

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  2. Hi LeNa,

    When reading your teaching philosophy, there were several points within your post that I felt related to some of my teaching and learning strategies in my teaching philosophy post. Your teaching philosophy really reflected your desire to promote a learning environment that is open and interdisciplinary. One of the ways that was really effective was the way in which you incorporated both the importance of the academic and professional development and preparation of students. Oftentimes, I do feel that teachers and professors can only focus on having student academically prepared and fail to equip the students with the practical knowledge and experience they need for the real world. Furthermore, I realized that we both use the concept of meaningful learning to ensure that students have the opportunity to understand and value the information that is being taught. Moreover, I strongly resonated with the purpose that you stated regarding your role as a facilitator. However, I think that it is even more important that the students recognize your role and relate this to their learning in an active, meaningful, and participatory manner that promotes transformational, meaningful, and long-lasting learning for all that are invested in the teaching and learning process.

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  3. Hi LeNa. Your point about teaching students how they can apply their knowledge from the classroom to the outside world is so important because by doing so, I think educators would be able to retain students more, among many other reasons. By showing them why the class/ content will be helpful to them in their careers, it helps guide them and demonstrates the value of their education. Also, I appreciated that you included “respectful interaction” in your philosophy, as this is such a great quality to have- being able to agree to disagree or how to disagree appropriately in a professional environment.

    Awesome post!

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  4. Hi, LeNa,

    Your teaching philosophy statement conveys tremendous value and respect toward your students, peers and colleagues.

    How might you engage people that fall short of your standard to foster the professional learning community that you seek?

    Best regards,

    Tony

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    1. Thank you so much for your response. I am not sure if anyone falls short of my standards to foster professional learning, because in a lot of ways that is one standard that is unique to each person and that’s what makes education diverse. By the time most students get to college they have a concept of what going to school means and in that going to school, in theory is their job. Although some students may not take their jobs seriously that does not mean they do not meet my standard for being able to foster professional learning. However, it may mean that their approach and consciousness are reflected in their assignments and eventually their grades.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Hi, LaNa,

        I remember trying to anticipate grades after studying for exams and completing papers or other assignments as an undergraduate. I think that it is a natural response. But, thinking about all of the years I spent as a student, I wish that I had enough sense then to figure out the process of learning rather than putting focus on an assessment that showed the value that someone else put on my work. The value that I place on understanding the process, I think is ultimately, more important than the grade. The difficult thing in understanding the process is the process is less likely to be understood until the student has been through it. And then, the great epiphany occurs! “Oh yeah, I see now.” I think the grade is a finite assessment of a small portion of that process.

        For example, I realized the other day that as an undergrad, there were certain classes that I really wanted to take and with specific instructors. But, those classes were usually upper division courses and required one, two or sometimes more prerequisites. The other day I realized that my daily and weekly plans and activities usually required things that I needed to accomplish before some of the more important things could be accomplished. This sounds very trivial on the surface, that is until the winds of life start blowing across a person’s path. If personal or professional goals are not stated specifically (and by specifically, I mean written down and kept somewhere that is easily accessible and referred to as often as possible) when life increases all of its complexities the very hoped for intentions get buried in the rubble.

        After conducting nine years of formal and informal research at three institutions, grades mean a whole lot less to me than when I started as an undergraduate at the University of South Alabama in 1998.

        Thank you for your comments.

        Best regards,

        Tony

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  5. “By treating my assignment due dates as deadlines, my research projects as proposals and arguments and my transcript management as a way to advance and increase my investment in my education, I was able to gain a deeper appreciation for education and higher learning.”

    I want to be you when I grow up. Ha. Seriously, this is important. I keep getting reminded that I should practice what I preach…..hold myself to the same expectations that I hold my students to. I tell my students that the most successful students treat school like a job. Also, I’ve read that this mentality makes the transfer from college to full-time work both easier & yield a creates better employees. Thanks for sharing!

    “Provide tools that will assist students with transitioning skills and knowledge learned in the classroom to their future and current careers.”
    Excuse my ignorance, I’m a little confused by this one. Do you mind explaining?

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    1. Hi Carla, thank you for your comment. By transitioning skills I mean that assignments in most of my classes have been real world examples and could be work assignments. Press releases, video ads, radio commercials, speech writing, etc. By setting deadlines and creating a simulated work environment they learn some skills before many of them get into the field.

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