All throughout my secondary education, I was a successful student. I took every Honors and Advanced Placement class that my school offered, and I achieved top marks in every class. However, that was not because I enjoyed every subject, but I enjoyed learning and achievement. During this time, I took Advanced Chemistry and a passion was born inside me. Chemistry made sense to me. I found a simplicity and an order that drove me to major in chemistry in my undergraduate studies. I loved my major so much that I accelerated, taking as many chemistry classes as I could, and I finished a year early with only two classes left to complete during my final semester. One of those classes, Biochemistry, reignited my passion for learning. During this course, I found that the simple and ordered chemistry that I learned in high school could be expanded to explain all biological processes, and that made even more sense to me. That passion and the guidance of my major advisor led me to further pursue a degree in biochemistry. When any student is fully engaged in their discipline and mesmerized by their passion, critical learning can be achieved.
Therefore, teaching must also exude the same passion that can allow students to truly master the discipline. The role of a passionate teacher is to create a student-centered environment that allows the individual student to be the driving force in their education. Joseph Ruhl summarized the characteristics that allow him to run a student-centered classroom where his students are able develop a passion for the subject. These are choice, collaboration, critical thinking, communication, creativity, and care. By giving my students an environment based on these principles, I can share my passion of learning, and that passion is able to excite my students to achieve. I am an advocate for incorporating a student-centered classrooms, where the individual students are focused on working through the information, not only transcribing that information from the teacher lecturing. Lecture seat time is replaced by in class exercises, discussions, and projects that have students investigate an aspect of their learning that increase their competency and confidence in their abilities.
In my experience as a teacher during my graduate studies, I have utilized a facilitator teaching style in which I am able to have personal interactions with individual students to master the course content. This allows my students to have more independence and understand the more advanced concepts derived from basic information while under the guidance of the teacher. During a large undergraduate biochemistry course, I designed and implemented a pretest to identify students that would need help during the semester to understand the material. I also developed review exercises designed like Process Oriented Guided Inquiry (POGIL) lessons for my students to use to develop an understanding of the information learned during the course. This allows me to teach by being a coach, and a mentor, as well as inspiring my students to become passionate about learning.