My formal teaching philosophy is simple; to develop skills in the individual that they can apply in their working life. I choose the development of skills rather than the acquisition and application of knowledge due to the rapidly changing nature and role of IT in statistical courses. Knowledge learned today may be irrelevant tomorrow. The ability to critically select information sources, mentally summarize the concepts and apply those concepts to solve a real life problem is what education means to me.
I see my role as a teacher to motivate and engage students, enabling them to become independent learners able to source information, critically assess its suitability for purpose and apply key concepts to new situations. Motivated and engaged students will be retained on the course and eventually complete the course successfully. In my teaching I set up norms and expectations of behavior early in the class and maintain those norms throughout the course.
My experience has taught me that the relationship between students and me as a teacher depends to a large extent upon the age of the student. What is appropriate for a school age student would be inappropriate for an adult student. What works for a European student may not work for an Asian student. Certainly in all cases the relationship should be one based on mutual respect, but the power relationships need not be one of dominant and subordinate. In a best case scenario a student will feel able to approach the teacher on an equal footing, listen attentively and ask questions easily. My maxim has always been to treat individuals as individuals since there is great diversity both between cultures and within cultures, within the sexes and between the sexes and any other group we might like to consider.
Teaching environments may differ from traditional to online but in both cases my understanding is that an effective learning environment should maximize purposeful communication between the teacher and student and ideally between the students. An effective learning environment is engaging, empowering, motivating and has a life of its own such that it requires minimal re-energizing by the teacher.
With an extensive experience in online teaching where adult learners are dominant in the classroom, I have found that adult learners can themselves be a teaching resource in a learning environment where they freely express their experiences. So, I find that fostering a positive learning environment also allows me to learn from students while I share my own experiences and knowledge.