I believe that students know when an educator sincerely cares for their education and well-being. I approach education from an ecological perspective that considers the many interconnected identities of each student, including issues of motivation and curiosity that are central to lifelong learners. This understanding began with one of my professors early in my collegiate experience. I deeply appreciated her successful efforts to know me as a whole person. Her commitment to my professional development ignited a spark of motivation that would impact me in countless other areas of my personal and professional life.
Her influence, along with that of my first work supervisor, made an indelible imprint on my development and character. They inspired me to consider the impact of investing in other individuals, students and employees, through thoughtful mentorship, collaborative growth tools, and encouraging stretching beyond their comfort zones.
Much of what is best in my approach to pedagogy and leadership is a reflection of extant inspiration from people who believed in my potential to always achieve more than I could have imagined. Therefore, it is my privilege and delight to pay it forward to each person on my teams by investing in their education and professional improvement. I am convinced that the foundation of my philosophy of excellent pedagogy is engaged inspiration, since it is what drives creativity and motivates success by a sense of wonder and exploration.
That foundation was reinforced during a study developed by the Target Corporation designed to harness and expand the pre-existing strengths of high level executives. With vision in mind, I try to amplify my students’ understanding of inspiration to include both a steady feeling of enthusiasm and electric energy, born out of our mutual investments and personal recognition of each individual’s innate worth.
Just as in Dynamic Systems Theory or Complexity Theory, my pedagogy is dynamic, fluid and interconnected to changing times, research, academic requirements and social needs. However, at the heart of emergent changes, the brilliance of collaborative and transdisciplinary inspiration remains a constant point of reference.
My desire is to facilitate classroom experiences in which everyone discovers new levels of personal achievement through a positive environment that is expressed first through a sincere smile. I want the students to notice that the contagious, happy energy which they see in me, as their instructor, is not merely a role I play in the class. It is part of the way I live my very life and pursue each new endeavor. When so many aspects of the students’ lives may feel chaotic and confusing, my consistency in class leads to trust and a renewal in the belief of reliability.
My commitment to their education and encouragement for them to become lifelong learners is reinforced in meta-analytical ways through relevant classroom discussions, captivating lectures, valid assignments and informative exercises. I model what it means to work in collaborative environments to best prepare them for the job market.
Students know when you are considerate toward the fullness of their lives that they are willing to bring to the academic table. It is a delight to connect their personal interests to their professional goals. That often requires immediate, positive and exclusive feedback appropriate to the institution’s standards and the individual’s needs and learning styles.
Finally, I believe that agency and autonomy inspire deeper involvement with course materials. One way of modeling this is to provide students with many opportunities for self-assessment, dialogic reflection and active learning activities. When students perceive that I enjoy what I do and that I cherish their ideas, what I teach becomes more significant. I will never tire of those magical moments when students share those “aha!” moments of personal epiphanies. It is my goal that they leave my course understanding that now it is their turn to take all that inspiration and knowledge and pass it on. This is my contribution to better education and, possibly, to a better world.