brendan@bdparker.com
585.748.8301

Teaching Philosophy

Inform those who do not know; Prepare those who are untried; Instruct those who are equipped; Guide those who have practiced; Inspire those who have mastered. The ideal instructor teaches to the level of the student, as high understandings of concepts demand knowledge of foundational material. A prepared student shows mastery of each of Benjamin Bloomís six facets, and the work involved for each class should attempt to test each level to an appropriate degree.

Academic Responsibility:

As an instructor in information technology and multimedia, I believe my responsibilities include clarity of structure, grading, and expectations. With a clear focus, the students will understand exactly what is expected, and the material will be much easier to absorb. An instructorís job is to convey complex information in an easy to understand manner. The more efficiently and effectively the information is presented, the more the student will assimilate. I also strive to provide comprehensive lecture notes, which are used in conjunction with demonstrations, assignments, and reading.

Additionally, I constantly seek opportunities to improve. This is particularly important in an environment that changes, such as a classroom, where implementing new approaches are often necessary. I frequently ask for input from students, both in class and through email, to make sure that I am staying on track with their learning styles and interests. I have created mid-quarter surveys for students to complete regarding my teaching styles and the course. I seek to set high academic and intellectual standards for my students, and adhere to them myself.

Structure:

The ideal approach to any class is having a secure, foundational structure on which the class is developed, but be malleable enough to meet studentís interests and expertise. Structure gives the class a familiar and predictable feel so students know what is expected and how the material will be presented. The curriculum should be flexible enough to accommodate different levels, skills, and learning styles.

Implementing Multiple Teaching Styles:

Employing varied teaching methods is critical. Throughout my education, I have had professors use four primary tactics: Instruction, Demonstration, Practice, and Application. A fault I have witnessed in presentation is emphasizing one particular facet excessively. Using only one will cover the course materials, but students are often under informed. Instruction is essential, as it introduces new concepts, both practical and theoretical, in a familiar and convenient way. Demonstration allows students to see an actual implementation of the instructed concept, putting it in perspective. Practice forces students to work hands-on with the new material. After mastery of the concepts, the student can apply it to real situations such as projects. This gives students the ability to work in a variety of settings, and covers virtually all learning styles. I also believe that it is best to give students optional readings and resources, in addition to the required, to give them the ability to take their education to a higher level. I employ these almost equally, meshing these techniques together to create a well-rounded, informed class.

Grading:

Grades motivate students, particularly in a college setting where they offer a first impression to potential employers. They are certainly not the only measurement of what a student understands, but the only objective assessment the student has in the classroom. They should accurately reflect a studentís performance, and therefore be just as important as what is learned. Instructors who value an accurate grading system typically have a fair and objective formula. A measurable progress should be ever present and current so the student can understand and monitor their performance. All grading should be clear and objective, and every assignment accompanied by a clear, uncompromising rubric. Understanding grading can also help a student evaluate which aspects of a course are most important, such as in web development, weight the grade for valid code highly, to emphasize its importance.

Offering chances to redo assignments also accommodates for differentiated learning styles and helps improve areas of weakness. If a student performs poorly on an assignment, that student should have an opportunity to redo it for a higher grade with additional challenges. After all, the objective is to teach and to have them learn, not just grade what they have done. Otherwise, the student may never learn the material as expected. Instead of the student taking the grade and moving on, this allows students to reflect on their responses and improve their knowledge of the topic. It rewards the students who delivered quality work in the first attempt, but those who did not have an opportunity to learn more about the material. Though the additional grading would burden the instructor, it can significantly improve a studentís performance and understanding of the material. Those who practice this may realize that the learning does not stop after the project is completed. It is an ongoing process. They should understand the material before moving forward.