My teaching philosophy is to create the best possible learning community by offering a variety of instructional approaches and foster the development of success skills for my classroom and beyond. Regardless of the course I want students to want to learn. This desire to learn is present in everyone but it needs to be activated. Anatomy & Physiology is a very challenging course but the subject is fascinating. It presents an opportunity to spark interest & interject humor. The rectal valve, for example, is important structure for everyone. It prevents that “you hope no one noticed” fart from being loaded. As you can imagine, it gets giggles but it captures attention, induces laughing and endorphin release. Happy brains want to learn.
What also facilitates this “want to learn” is that I quickly establish an open dialogue with students. Involving the student in their own learning also lies at the root of my philosophy. I encourage students to participate in discussion and provide an environment where they feel like they can take risks. Even when students are wrong I always applaud them for their efforts (“Good try/Not quite/excellent idea”). Step in my classroom and you’ll probably find it rather noisy; reflecting learning is in progress.
I believe it is important to present myself as a friendly and supportive instructor. I take time to get to know my students, their names, what their career goals are or what their interest is in the course. I also make time to chat with the students and it does not have to be about the class. Students are valued members of my classroom regardless of their background, education or other social factors.
Part of my effectiveness as an instructor is my ability to relate scientific concepts with everyday concepts students are familiar with. For instance, students have trouble visualizing ionic movements and how these movements relate to the establishment of resting membrane potential. I turn myocytes/neurons into banks and ions into dollars. Students understand money and can relate that concept to ionic gradients and movements. While it may sound silly, ions as dollars, but it is an effective means of concept visualization for the students.
To be an effective instructor I rely on my creativity and analytical abilities. I constantly research and develop lesson plans & assignments, review, take out what didn’t work and continually change my approaches. What works for one class may not work for the next. I try creative ideas including 3D modeling, cartoon depictions and even create crime scenes with a murder to solve as part of a dry bone lab. Studies show that happy and engaged brains learn better.
Education & Certification
Undergraduate Degree: University of Mount Union - Bachelors, Biology, General
Graduate Degree: University of Wisconsin-Madison - PHD, Physiology
Gardening, Cooking, Crochet, Scientific Research
Q & A
What is your teaching philosophy?
My teaching philosophy is to create the best possible learning community by offering a variety of instructional approaches and foster the development of success skills for my classroom and beyond.
What might you do in a typical first session with a student?
If the student has not sent any information prior to the session, I would initiate a meet and greet process. I would ask about the class, what kind of questions or expectations the student's instructor has for them, what concepts or skills are most challenging, and what concerns the student has about their course. This helps me better continue addressing the student's goals of tutoring, and how to continue in the future.
How can you help a student become an independent learner?
A big part of teaching is having students learn to become independent. It is learning to understand questions. It's learning where to find information, how to use the textbook and when to use the internet; asking smaller, easier questions to understand application questions and how to problem solve.
How would you help a student stay motivated?
I help keep students motivated by positive reinforcement, friendliness, and sincerity. Don't criticize their mistakes; help them practice concepts and show honest enthusiasm when they succeed at something they were struggling with.
If a student has difficulty learning a skill or concept, what would you do?
Look for another way to explain it. Some students are visual learners and need to see concepts in drawings. Some students are mechanical learners and they have to tinker or manipulate ideas through modeling a concept. I also look for familiar ideas and concepts in everyday life that can be used as an analogy to the scientific concept.
How do you help students who are struggling with reading comprehension?
If a student reads a question and has no idea what the question is asking, it's time to dissect the question.
What strategies have you found to be most successful when you start to work with a student?
Modeling and drawing are my most successful strategies. A lot of the subjects I teach involve predictions about what would happen if a step in a process was disrupted, but students usually haven't mastered the process itself yet. Outlining through drawing or modeling helps not only to teach the process but to point out the defective area of the prediction, and students can then begin making predictions.
How would you help a student get excited/engaged with a subject that they are struggling in?
With enthusiasm and empathy. Finding or relating how the subject impacts areas that are more interesting to the student.
What techniques would you use to be sure that a student understands the material?
The most important thing is that a student understands the material being presented. If they do not, they can become frustrated because it reflects in their assessments.
How do you build a student's confidence in a subject?
Positive encouragement; compliment the student for what they understand and be their biggest cheerleader when they succeed and stumble.
How do you adapt your tutoring to the student's needs?
By observation and reflection.
What types of materials do you typically use during a tutoring session?
I come with a variety of materials. Basics include a textbook, dry erase markers, and plastic sheet protectors, as well as paper, colored pencils, and usually some activities or worksheets to help challenge the student.