As a teacher, I see my role as one part tour guide, one part informer, and another part mentor. To each individual student, I could be any combination of these but I need to stay flexible enough to be all three of these at any point in time because students will need all three of these at some point in their college careers. I need to ensure that I can properly communicate to students why taking a course from me would be beneficial and where it will lead them to, that is the tour guide aspect. As an informer, I need to have a mastery of the information that I teach to students so I can answer any questions they may have as well as effectively enhance their knowledge on the subject matter in class. And being a mentor is where I get the most enjoyment out of teaching. A mentor will help a student recognize proper motivation throughout their college career and beyond so they can use skills from college in the real world.
On top of all these roles, I try to use advice that I have received throughout my life to apply to teaching. An important piece of advice I received from my department head at NC State who said to “be the best you, because no one can do you better than you.” I have used this advice to recognize that I should not try to teach as if I am someone else because I will never be as good as them if I only try to emulate that teacher. I can utilize techniques of other teachers or use their strategies in teaching, but I should only use this to enhance my style and not change my style. I attempt to use real world examples when explaining difficult concepts in economics to engage the students. I will also sprinkle in anecdotes and light humor throughout lectures as a way to break up the material into shorter segments as a way to keep students interested in learning. I focus on using my personality and strengths to develop my own style both inside and outside of the classroom.
I try to recognize that I need to play multiple roles for students and treat them all with respect. These seem like simple straight forward tasks, but they do not always turn out to be as students are not homogeneous and, based upon interaction, require differing techniques to reach them. It is vital for me to understand that I use my personality and humor to connect with students so that they will respect me and can benefit from my courses. So far, I have had students request I write them letters of recommendation for study abroad programs, graduate school, internships, and employment. I know I have connected with those students, but there can always be room for improvement to connect with other students out there.