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A-E-I-O-You and Me: A teaching philosophy

Several years ago I was presenting at a T&L workshop on teaching practical concepts to business students by using a media diary. I have been teaching marketing for many years at several universities, and I enjoy teaching practical subjects to business students. The presentation went well, but then there were the questions.

The question on my presentation was easy, but then someone asked me: “What is your teaching philosophy?”. I hesitated. I knew I had one somewhere. I remember I had a great answer in my job interview, but what was it?

I gave an answer off the top of my head mentioning words like ‘practical’, ‘interesting’, ‘fun’, ‘learning environment’, or something like that, but I wasn’t happy with my answer.

Later I did what any good researcher would do, I looked on Google. There I found a few different ones, some even mentioning ‘practical’, ‘interesting’, ‘fun’, ‘learning environment’, but they weren’t mine.

I thought about what were the main things that I did in class, and what I wanted from the students, and developed my own teaching philosophy: A-E-I-O-You and Me.

This stands for:

A – Aims for each class and the subject in general. In the lectures I begin with the main issues that will be discussed in the lecture, which can also be seen as Achievements by the end of the class. At the end of the semester, in the revision lectures the students are reminded of the Aims and how they were achieved in the topics presented during the classes.

E – Engagement with students is so important because if there is no engagement or connection, then anything that is said in class won’t be listened to or understood, and you won’t achieve the Aims. A good way to do that is to be Entertaining, which is why I have music at the beginning of class, a few bad jokes here and there, and at times cartoons that relate to the topic. Also, foster a positive learning Environment by being Encouraging in your words and feedback.

I – Interactivity with students is important, not just to wake them if they fall asleep, but to provide relevant, practical Information to them on the content they should be learning to help them achieve the Aims, and possibly Inspire them to do more study for themselves.

O – Outcomes for the class should be planned so they are reminded of the main ‘takeaways’ of the class or subject. Therefore, you should be clear that the program and subject Objectives that you have will result in the Outcomes you planned. This should also be remembered when doing Online learning, as remote teaching shouldn’t mean that you are remote from the student’s learnings.

Then comes the responsibilities of you (the student) and me (the teacher).

You – the student has the individual responsibility to be a committed student to the subject by keeping up-to-date with readings, prepare material before the class, being able to contribute to discussion, commit specific time to attend and study the curriculum, and support peers and groups members with positive words and quality work.

Me – as the teacher, I have the individual responsibility to be a committed teacher to the subject by providing up-to-date material, prepare for each class, being able to encourage discussion, commit specific time for the students and being available to answer questions within a reasonable time, and support students with positive words and quality teaching.

While it takes a while to explain, the basic idea of A-E-I-O-You and Me is a teaching philosophy that is easy to understand and I hope that it can inspire you to consider: “What is your teaching philosophy?

David Waller is from the UTS Business School at the University of Technology Sydney.

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