An Authentic Teaching Self
Updated: Sep 16, 2020
I have been teaching the undergraduate level at the architectural department in Jordan since 2013 specializing in the landscape architecture field. Through that journey, I have learned and explored many of what teaching methods can be. In the beginning, it was hard to overcome all the traditional teaching methodologies that are used and expected to use, one of them, that you have to be of a certain age to be qualified for teaching at a higher education level. Saying that I do believe that the ability to interact with the students comes from understanding their abilities and direct communication, my teaching self focused on engaging with the students in and out of class.
I fondly remember my first solo lecture and the amount of studying and preparation I did to be standing with confidence that I have the answers to all questions, however, I have realized that you will never have all answers and there is no shame on that if you only are transparent about it.
Linking what I have mentioned with Last week's reading in our contemporary pedagogy class about the definition of learning and introducing the (mindfulness and mindlessness) terminologies was an eye-opening. I always relied on my experience in understanding the methods and how does it work or not. Reading Langer’s article (Langer, 1989) and others describing the myths of learning and some of the experimental learning strategies have questioned some of my strategies and made me feel guilty for every time I felt comfortable with a certain class as it imply that I lost interest.
Coming from a culture where the learning pedagogy is still on the old-fashioned way ( in my opinion) a one-way flow of learning, where the students receive the information in a static form with no room for expression and discussion made it essential for me to change. In addition to its limitation in terms of resources and support. I have been taught that way, however, I have been raised differently where reading is enriching, having an opinion is important and the issue of doubt and questioning is acceptable.
After I have graduated from the school of architecture in Jordan, I always felt that I needed to see the world and learn something new rather than the same ordinary architectural school certificate, luckily, I had the opportunity to study at the University of Arizona in 2011, and that was the start of my journey in the academic field. after graduating I tried while teaching in Jordan to mimic some of the teaching methods i had for several courses. those experiments wont have been successful without the transparency of evaluation and critiquing with the student about any aspect of the course either by writing or discussing it at the end of the semester.
One of the main obstacles I faced while teaching is how to transform my practical experience into an academic one especially as they vary in terms of the long-term short-term achievement satisfactory. While as a practitioner you can see your design and projects held up can raise the effect immediately. Yet in my fourth year of teaching the satisfaction approached me when i heard from my students after they graduate that i have inspired them in someway and receiving emails of compliments on the course nevertheless when the students succeed in their projects and you had incorporated in that.
Finally, I realized that when you are passionate about your profession, the students can easily read that and therefore will respect the effort and get engaged in your vision. Also, the factor of respect and inclusion in the process itself that both ends learn, brings up a totally different layer of the learning experience putting in mind that once it gets comfortable in you to need to act upon it and change.
Image: My Jordanian students and Myself after finishing a group project for a building construction course in 2018.
Langer, E. J. (1989). Mindfulness. (pp. xiv, 234). Addison-Wesley/Addison Wesley Longman.