Conceptualization of Learning and Teaching
My philosophy of teaching includes a goal to establish an active-learning environment. This approach incorporates moderate structure, feedback and interaction, inviting students to participate in constructing their own knowledge rather than passively receiving it (Eddy & Hogan, 2014). This format, with integrated theoretical application exercises, allows students opportunities to engage in collaboration and discourse with peers in a safe environment.
I strive for awareness of my students’ learning styles and maintain a flexible approach to pedagogical technique that relationally assesses students and adapts to include aural, visual, and experiential learning. Semesters when I have taught multiple sections of the same course, I am more acutely aware and reminded that each collective of students has unique class culture. Regardless of the approach, my essential teaching goals are to encourage students to foster and develop career goals and pathways. Additionally, my hope is that they grow their life skills of problem solving, collaboration, ethical decision-making, and social commitment.
I believe in the empowering nature of inclusion. I have had the honor to teach students facing a variety of concerns, including for example, a blind student who enrolled in my photography course, students addressing and overcoming oppressive racial issues, students who have realized that failure can be a starting point for growth, and others who have faced knee-bucking fear and survived. These are some of my most profound experiences of teaching. Yet I also am inspired and encouraged to see student discourse unfold each semester in everyday class discussion, individual reflection, and peer group project navigation. I believe in creating and modeling a culture of inclusion and providing opportunities for students to consider inclusive action in small and large ways.
Regardless of the type of assignment, I strive to offer constructive feedback that highlights areas in which students are excelling, as well as encouraging them to seek out the opportunities in which they can grow and improve. In each course, I wholeheartedly convey to students my support for the incredible campus services available to them (e.g., writing center, counseling services, tutoring). The best-performing students can continue to grow and the students who are struggling the most can find hope.
Personal Growth Plan
As I reflect on my most fulfilling experiences as an instructor and envision my future as a professor; I hope to develop more mentoring relationships with students. Some of the most rewarding teaching experiences have been in courses where semester-long service learning projects have allowed students to engage with their communities and experience new cultures in practical application opportunities.
Crucial to achieving my academic goals is to find a collective of individuals who embody similar ideals of teaching, student mentoring, and service learning. I hope to grow by creating a contagious enthusiasm for lifelong learning, encouraging students to value and cultivate their intellectual curiosity. I believe this can begin with a conscious focus on teaching students to esteem critical thinking and challenging students to ethical living.
Aggregate data available upon request.
“Great instructor. She knew a lot about the subject and was able to give advice and attainable goals. We were measured on our own progress, rather than on others.”
“Mrs. Spencer, through her passion and enthusiasm for photography, caused me to switch my major to Photography. She's the most enthusiastic college instructor I've ever had.”
“This instructor is very knowledgeable and passionate about what she teaches, and that makes this class much more interesting. A lot of us students were very shy or quiet during this class, and she always encouraged us to open up and participate. There was a good mixture of notes and hands-on learning as well.”
“Great teacher, always helpful and patient with everyone who is having trouble understanding.”
“You clearly and lucidly teach.”
“This instructor is very knowledgeable about the subjects she teaches. She is always looking for new approaches to topics. If the book doesn't cover a topic very well, she will look for answers somewhere else, always providing her students with different ways to look at a topic. Her classes are also very hands-on which was very helpful to me.”
“She welcomes students to come to her for help outside of class.”
Most helpful course aspects: “How much the coursework related to the real world. The concepts we learned about organizations can be taken with me for future jobs.”
“Ms. Spencer was one of the most helpful professors I have ever had. If I had a question, she would email me back very quickly. She also emailed us multiple times a week to let us know what was going on in the class and even some things happening around campus.”
“She definitely treated students with respect and with an understanding not often seen in instructors. She was also a fair grader.”
“I loved being in Spencer’s class. She never taught so much information that it was overwhelming and was always willing to help students in their understanding. She was extremely engaging and kept class fun and upbeat. Even though it was an 8 a.m. class, I looked forward to being there.”