|Reflection Essay Rena Saito
Teaching is part of a life-long learning process. For effective teaching, teachers must be good learners. This certificate program in college teaching provided me with many opportunities to think about my teaching career. In this section of my teaching ePortfolio, I will answer several questions regarding teaching, ePortfolio, and the certificate program.
What was the most striking or surprising thing you learned about yourself and about teaching as you developed your ePortfolio?
Through the ePortofolio development process, I realized that teaching is one of the most difficult activities I will perform in my life. Knowing or understanding subjects does not necessarily mean I will be able to teach the subjects well. To enhance students’ learning, I must create an appropriate learning environment through various teaching strategies and presentation methods. There is no single best solution; I should continuously try new things and improve my teaching skills.
Based on the materials you wrote, what will be your greatest strength as a teacher?
As I discussed in my teaching philosophy statement, I believe in the importance of repeated exposure to a subject. For “repeated exposure,” I should prepare well-organized class materials so students can recall previously taught materials easily. My greatest strength as a teacher is my organization skill. I will prepare very organized lesson plans and slides for my classes.
In addition, I always like to explore new subjects – I am very flexible and will change my lesson plans if needed. I will continuously revise my teaching materials. This way, I can provide the most recent, updated information to students.
What will be your greatest challenge as a teacher?
Increasing students’ engagement is the greatest challenge as a teacher, especially in the basic lower-level courses. Many students may take such basic introductory courses without strong motivation. As a student, grades are important, of course; however, I want to teach students that applying (or at least recalling) what they learned in their classes, even after college, is much more important than just focusing on class grades.
In addition, balancing between “be strict” and “be flexible” is also a great challenge for me. I want students to follow my policy, such as late work policy. However, I want to be flexible to meet students’ needs and interests. Being too strict may damage students’ interest and participation in the class, but being too flexible can also hurt students’ engagement in the class. I should improve my teaching method to create a good teaching and learning environment.
How did the combination of workshops, experimental learning, assignment development, syllabi construction, and lesson plan creation lead to new understanding about teaching?
The combination of teaching workshops, teaching classes, class material development, and actual teaching provided a great opportunity to enhance my teaching skills. I was able to learn basic teaching principles from teaching classes, apply teaching principles in class material development and actual teaching, and learn new teaching methods and issues from teaching workshops. From this combination, I also realized that teaching is a lifelong process – and my improvement as a teacher should never end.
Lack of teaching experience is my greatest problem as a teacher. I taught several classes, both in laboratory and lecture, as a guest lecturer. However, I have not taught classes as a primary instructor. Therefore, I have not had any experience in “course” organization or “course” development. This certificate program offered me a great opportunity to improve this weak point. In my teaching portfolio, I have developed sample course materials, such as a syllabus and assignments, for a class. Developing course materials provided me with great experience and preparation for my future career.
Of which documents are you most proud in your portfolio? Which documents do you see yourself returning to over the years, as you gain more teaching experience?
All documents in my ePortfolio are important for me. I did my best to prepare each document; however, there is no “completed,” “perfect” version of them. As previously stated, teaching, for me, is a lifelong learning activity. My teaching style may change over the coming years and I may learn and create new materials for my future classes. I will keep updating my documents in my portfolio to meet both students’ and my own needs.
What special information would you like the Certification Board to know about you and your future as a teacher?
The Industrial Hygiene program in the department of Environmental and Radiological Health Sciences does not have any TA positions. Therefore, I did supervised teaching in two graduate level courses. For people like me, this certificate program is the best way to improve our teaching skill. Without this certificate program, I could not have had enough training in college-level teaching.