Having sat on many hiring committees over the past 20 years I have had the opportunity to read many colleague’s statements about their approach to teaching (commonly referred to as a “teaching philosophy”) and while some were excellent and passionate, others were trite and mechanical.
My approach to teaching is less about a defined philosophy or approach than it is about how I see myself and my career as a teacher. In simple terms, I see myself as a tour guide showing my students the beautiful destinations in the wonderful land of sociology. As I stand in front of a new class of students, I see them as visitors to my country and who are looking to me to show the best places to visit but also putting their trust in me that we won’t get lost or hurt on our journey. I love teaching introductory sociology because I can show students the very best of sociology and the beauty in its diversity. My hope is that during our tour they will find one or two places that they want to visit again.
I realize this is a simplistic approach to teaching but I can assure you that it is hard to achieve. During our journey some students get motion sickness, some want to phone home, and others are so happy to be on their own for the first time that they lose focus and stay out too late and “miss the bus”.
I have the best job in the world – I am around people who are just beginning their journey into sociology. I believe that in my own small way, I am changing the world, one student at a time.