Alan Jenks Teaching ePortfolio

Teaching the Next Generation

Teaching Philosophy

“The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.”

-William Arthur Ward

“I am inspired” is my hope for every student. This quote from William Arthur Ward really summarizes my objective with teaching. I don’t want to just teach information, but develop each lesson and each course, to inspire a future generation of leaders.

This idea of “inspiring” came to me very early on in university and my chiropractic education. Those first classes in the big lecture halls were so different from high school. It was new, I was nervous, on my own, but also inspired by a couple of really good professors. The complexity of different teaching styles, and how some instructors used stories to convey their messages kept that inspiration alive and stoked my desire to learn.

Two courses that had an impact on me were my typing class in high school and a 3rd year course in university called “Microsoft Office in Kinesiology Research”. The teachers would refer to how these skills would help us in life, then we would see the progressing in the physical doing of these skills, resulting in not only improvement but inspired that we actually could use them.

My hope is to inspire the students by engaging with them so they understand the content of my courses and how that can apply in daily application. I want students to feel this desire, because I have inspired them to learn.

I am currently using John Biggs ideas of being Approachable, Authentic, Committed and Motivating. I accomplish this currently by showing students with clinical examples how I use the knowledge and translate that into current clinical practice. The students then see the clarity of content and how that improves patient outcomes. I am still learning from my own teaching experiences, and striving for more clarity to continually inspire students.

Most of my teaching experience has come from teaching continuing education to chiropractors, physiotherapists, osteopaths, medical doctors and dentists. I have had the academic freedom to use evidence based innovative ways to create a transformative learning environment for my students. This experience blended with the University Teaching Program at Vrije Universiteit, has helped me create a learning environment that uses learning styles of Vermunt to ensure each student’s needs are met. Using enthusiasm, passion, interest, humor, stimulating, reasonable pace ensures each of my lectures are addressing the different communication styles. Focusing on repetition, repetition, repetition, that provide opportunities for students to absorb. Being interactive with the class, so it draws on the students who like to be verbal. Making students feel safe and at ease, feeling comfortable to always ask questions. Mastery in being knowledgeable enough that I can easily explain concepts that students are going to understand. This helps with clarity, so that all learning styles are addressed.

By teaching students from a wide range of backgrounds, nationalities and learning styles I have honed my communication and creativity skills, enabling me to heighten interest, participation, and motivation.

More recently I’ve developed online courses. With the covid crisis, I have had to move to teaching across Europe via Zoom. My classes have a lot of hands on, so constructing a real-time video supervision of manual physical assessment procedures has been a challenge and provided an opportunity to improve on clarity of delivery.

Lang, in his article “4 steps to a Memorable Teaching Philosophy” said, “Begin with the end”. Knowing that a degree is a stepping stone to something more. Before I develop the class, I construct what it is I want them to be able to do in the end, then build my courses to ensure that happens.

I will develop students’ critical thinking and problem solving that inspires students to think beyond the context of a book. I want students to experience their own ability to think creatively, and I strive to create novel ways they can demonstrate their knowledge. As Gray indicates, by developing creative educational opportunities, students are able to apply what they learn and encourage their own innovative ways to transfer knowledge to other aspects of their education and life. I have created this clinically but discuss real patients that I have taken care of and using the course objective to figure out with the students how I treated those patients.

“To learn, read. To know, write. To master, teach”

-A Hindu proverb

I use this quote with my students to reflect on the idea of mastery and that even though I am the one teaching, I almost learn more that day than the student. I take pride and accountability for mastering a subject that results in a transformative learning experience for the student. When students start asking questions or asking for clarification, I often then reflect on if I understand enough to explain it simply.

In order to become engaged members of society, students need to understand not only the facts presented in books and lectures, but the questions they need to ask to further inspire their learning. I work to present information in the most compelling way possible through interactive teaching aids and experiential learning. I take time and effort in designing the microstructure of courses, establish clear learning goals, and employ feedback practices. I want to inspire students to build their natural curiosity and take an active role in their learning using real-world clinical examples.

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