Skip to Main Content

Teaching Philosophy

Mathematics teachers are commissioned to both impart mathematical knowledge and inspire their students to develop their own capacity for abstract thinking. While this is a relatively easy task for enthusiastic or mathematically gifted students, it presents great challenges for students who view mathematics as an obstacle to their education and enroll only to fulfill a graduation requirement. Specifically, struggling students can detach themselves from lectures, fall behind on their homework, and ultimately lose interest in the class. In the following, I discuss my approach to teaching and some of the measures that I take to encourage effective learning.

Naturally, a portion of my interest in teaching mathematics is merely an extension of my love of the subject. With that, I find it easy to be enthusiastic and energetic in my lectures. I'm thrilled about mathematics and I want my students to be as well. I believe that by being dynamic and engaging, my students will pay better attention and are more likely to interact positively in the classroom.

A love of ones subject is not enough, however. I believe that teachers must also take an interest in their students. By being responsive to the needs of the class and attentive to my duties as the instructor, I find that students are open to learning and more willing to accept challenges.

The importance of preparation is difficult to overstate. Ill-prepared lectures are justifiably perceived by students as both a lack of interest on the part of the instructor and a waste of everyone's time. In this scenario, students are likely to reciprocate with a matched lack of interest. On the other hand, students will often acknowledge well-prepared instruction with both increased efforts and a greater determination to succeed.

Good communication is key for any instructor. In the classroom, it is important to interact with the audience. This involves asking thought-provoking questions and soliciting feedback to see if they have understood the concepts that have been presented. It is also important to face the class when lecturing. This generally needs to be carefully balanced with time spent writing on the chalkboard. I prefer to be verbose when I write on the board so that my students' notes will be more complete. In addition, I always write announcements on the board, so that there is a written record of assignments, important dates, etc., in their notes, even if such things are posted on a course web page. I have found this to be effective in reducing miscommunication.

Finally, good overall pedagogy is very important. While there are always hotly debated differences on the specifics, I believe, speaking generally, that it is important to motivate concepts, present "real world" applications whenever appropriate, incite students to further their knowledge beyond the scope of the class, create incentives for the students to work harder, and when possible provide a forum for students to do class projects or research.