I Teach Because I Want to Learn
There are those who take their place at the head of a classroom because they want to help others learn, to inspire and witness the “aha” moments when the mental light bulb suddenly flickers on in their students’ minds. I enjoy the light bulb moments a lot; but, I also approach teaching a bit differently. I teach because I want to learn.
I know that might sound unusual. However I’m someone who is hungry to learn. After I earned my doctorate, I figured that was the end of the road from a degree perspective. Sure, I could pursue another degree, but my thinking was this: If I really want to understand something, I should try to teach it.
Getting and Giving Back
Even with all I do these days—from running my small business to spending time with my family and everything in between—I make time to teach. I don’t look at teaching as a “job” per se—I consider it personal development. It’s important to me to learn no matter what because it’s the learning process that makes me a better person. I welcome it when students ask me questions for which I may not have a ready answer. This forces me to say, “Let me get back to you.” I then go research it and learn something new.
Teaching also allows me an opportunity to make an impact on the future—to help shape the quality of leadership. I can do that through the education process. It’s like mentoring the future generation of leaders. Do I want to sit back and leave that to others? No! I want to be an active part of the process.
What I Bring to the Table
I’ve been running my own business since 1985. Because it’s a small business, I have my hands in every area—finance, accounting, marketing, sales, operations, statistics, strategic planning, human resources and project management, to name a few. I see my role as balancing the whole organization across all functional areas. I don’t think good decisions can be made by operating in a silo—that is, solely from a marketing, financial or legal perspective, for example. I’m involved in all facets of the business—therefore, I manage and make decisions from a variety of perspectives.
So, in 2006 when I was asked by a colleague at University of Phoenix Minneapolis Campus to consider joining the faculty, I jumped at the chance. I saw it as a learning opportunity for me as well as a way to share what I’ve experienced over the years.
Since then I’ve been able to make an impact on working learners at several levels at University of Phoenix. I teach doctoral-level courses online and MBA courses at the local campus. And I’m able to connect to the corporate world by conducting executive seminars.
In fact, that’s one of the reasons I enjoy being at University of Phoenix—I really enjoy teaching working learners. They have enough work experience to fully appreciate my style and participate in scholarly debate. Working learners also get to immediately apply classroom discussion to their workplace or at least have a frame of reference of how they could apply it. They ask probing questions and say, “Oohh, I get it!”
Another reason I like being here is that the University realizes there are differences between those who attend classes virtually versus those who attend in person in a real classroom. They know the value of offering the convenience of both online and local campus learning formats—how brilliant! From a teaching perspective, the most obvious difference between the two modalities is being able to see (or not see) when someone does or doesn’t “get it.” In a classroom, you can tell it in their face or their body language; online is more difficult to read body language. But online has the convenience of attendance, which is extremely valuable, too.
When teaching through an online learning environment, the main challenge I have is that I may be unsure as to what anyone’s thinking. And honestly, almost no one online easily admits they do not understand. They only type what they’re willing to share. However, online students are very self-motivated learners—so virtual learning works for them. They enjoy learning on their time, around their busy schedules. I can certainly appreciate that!
What University of Phoenix Brings to the Table
I’m so proud to be a part of the University of Phoenix family. It has great curriculum. Its platform is working well. The attention to detail is superb. The University is focused on excellence. I feel honored to be a faculty member.
I’m also grateful for the opportunity to be here because of what I have learned throughout my teaching experience. And what I’ve learned comes down to this: If you really want to perfect your knowledge of running a business, then teach it. It’s some of the best education I’ve ever given myself. And sometimes I feel I learn more from my students than they do from me.
This article originally appeared in the Chronicle of Higher Education, UOPX Campus Viewpoints section. To review our current faculty articles, visit: https://chronicle.com/campusViewpoint/University-of-Phoenix/29/.