Teaching Statement

My teaching philosophy, University of Alberta, Mathematical and Statistical Sciences, 2017

My love for teaching dates back to my Primary School days. When I realized that Mathematics was a nightmare for most of my classmates, I decided to study Mathematics on a daily basis, with the aim of understanding more than what was done in class; so as to be the only person that could solve challenging problems given to us by our primary school teacher. Hence, I had the opportunity to go to the board to solve problems for my classmates, which is something I very much cherish. I equally had many pupils bringing gifts for me everyday since they wanted to be my my friends. I used to feel excited whenever I was given the opportunity to solve intricate problems for my classmates. The profoundity of the ineffable feeling of triumph and the urge to remain the best made me interested in teaching and end me the nakename “Prof” right from Primary School .

My experiences in teaching are wide. Upon graduating from High School, I took the Mathematics competitive entrance examination into the Advanced Teachers’ Training College Annex Bambili which was then under the Faculty of Education in the University of Yaounde I. I was the first(best) among the thirty selected students out of more than a thousand who took the exam. For three years (October 2003 to July 2006), I was trained as a Mathematics teacher for secondary education and graduated as the best student in the Mathematics department and the second overall student in the training School. During these years, I diligently studied the techniques of teaching and evaluation of Mathematics in secondary schools. This peroid included a year’s placement in a secondary school where I got my first experience prior to graduation in 2006. Between then and 2010, I gained more teaching as well as communication skills by teaching in Government Secondary School (GSS) Great Soppo-Buea. I have learnt to be patient with slow learners. In January 2007 while teaching at great Soppo, I participate in the University of Buea International Conference on Mathematical Sciences. During the Mathematical Biology workshop that took place within the conference, I had the opportunity not only to work on appealing research problems such as Modelling of Tumor growth, but also to interact closely with working Mathematicians. My discussion with these great researchers convinced that combining teaching and research for a carrier will suit me very well. I then decided to enrolled in the university of Buea to for a degree in mathematics. In the final year of my studies, I was given the opportunity to experience teaching in a University. I co-taught Calculus I. We shared responsibilities for lectures, tutorials, exams, home work assignments and grading. Following my dreams, I am currently rounding up with my Ph.D. Prior to my first teaching assistant duty at the University of Alberta, I completed the University of Alberta Graduate Teaching and Learning (GTL) Program level one and in the process of completing level two. In this program, we are taught the pedagogical skills and concepts required for teaching at a post-secondary level. Since the start of my PhD at the University of Alberta, I have taught Ordinary Differential Equations (Math 201) labs for 15 terms and Calculus III (Math 209) labs for 3 terms. I have equally graded weekly assignments in Partial Differential Equations (Math 300) and worked as a tutor in drop-in help centre for mathematics and statistics for 3 terms. Since October 2015, I have been a tutor for an Ordinary Differential Equation course and a Partial Differential Equation at Athabasca University. In recognition of excellence for my performance in my teaching assistant duties at the University of Alberta, I was awarded the Graduate student teaching award in 2015. This award was directly awarded by the President of the University and the Vice Provost Dean of the Faculty of Graduate Studies and Research. I get very excellence official ratings from my students every year. I have also completed the University of Alberta Graduate Teaching and Learning (GTL) Program level one and in the process of completing level two. In this program, we are taught the pedagogical skills and concepts required for teaching at a post-secondary level. This rich collection of experience that I have accumulated over the years by teaching at different levels has helped to develop effective communication skills, to improve my ability to garner and keep students’ attention, and to cultivate a strong desire to provide the highest quality of education possible.

Over the years that I have been teaching, my teaching philosophy keep on evolving every semester. The main tenets that shape my philosophy is that teaching of mathematics is an interactive exercises involving the students and teacher and that students are pregnant with knowledge. Prior to teaching a lesson, I usually go over my lesson plan and notes, paying proper attention to the objectives of the lesson and ensuring that I have practical exercises that will help evaluate the lesson. At the start of every lesson, I always review the previous lesson, and then link it to the day’s lesson before stating the objective of the lesson. Each time I explain a concept, I normally solve an example and then give an exercise for the student to do while I walk round and check and equally help clarify those who have problems with the concept while congratulating those who are doing it correctly. After I have given them enough time as allocated in my lesson plan, I usually solve the whole exercise with them while asking them what to do from step to step. I realized that by so doing, students get really excited that they are the one telling me what to write and I find those who could not complete or those who made a mistake exclaiming: “oh! I now see !”. This helps foster an environment in the classroom where everyone feels alive an active. I then will give one other problem on the concept to be solve at home if possible. I acknowledge that students turn to be busy and so always make them understand that if they are in that period of the semester where they do not have time to do extra problems they could do them as part of the exercises for the midterm or finals. But do encourage them to do them that same day if they can. In proving a theorem in class, I usually get the student actively involve by having them lead me through and when they can not, I usually give a hint, making sure I stay within the time specify in my lesson plan for the proof. At the end of the lesson, I usually restate the objectives. As my students already know from the start of the term, if at the end of the lesson, a student happen to have doubt as to wether he actually can solve a problem, define a term, or state and prove a theorem as per the learning outcome, they should always feel free to keep me waiting or come to my office at anytime of the day possible to both of us for me to help them. I make my students to understand that we are friends and that we are all here to help each other learn in one way or the other at the start of every year, and I find, that always helps make them comfortable calling me Jude and interrupting me at anytime within the lesson to ask me questions. While teaching, if I realize that the students are tired, be it from attending other classes or because the lesson is quite energy draining, I will tell them jokes for few minutes to gain their attention. This so far have been helpful in captivating their attention. One quarter way into the term, I usually conduct an informal evaluation of the teaching. I usually ask students to write what they like and hate about my teaching style and how they will prefer things to be done in the class. Half way gone, I also always repeat the process. This is often written anonymously and submitted in my assignment box. This over the years have been very helpful in helping me address certain students problems. I usually make them understand that assignments and quizzes are not meant to evaluate them but to keep them up with the material. So they are encourage to come to my office at anytime for help with they assignments or to send me emails if they are block somewhere and can not proceed. I usually respond as soon as I get the email and my students are always super excited to have their problems resolve without any delay.. Sometimes I find it easy clarifying them with an example and so I present an example on a piece paper relating it to the current problem and send a picture to them via email. In a few time, I have find myself having to skype with some students to clarify a concept or guide them in a problem. Before the midterm, I will set sample problems, solve some and for each solved problem, I give similar unsolved exercises with an answer, for them to solve and ensure that they arrived at the provided answer. I also encourage them not to rely solely on those problem but to equally look at the exercise in their textbook, other midterm or finals and the problems in their course notes. When distributing quizzes or assignment papers to student, I make show I read their names out and give it to them. This help me know the names of my students and I found out that my student feel more comfortable talking to me about anything when I called them by their names or if I just call them “my friend”. I use the phrase “my friend” when I can not remember a name and this always help obscure the fact that I can not remember a student name. Most often I am able to call my students by their names. I am always enthusiastic when teaching. I have come to realized from end of term course evaluation that, that helps encourages students to seek my assistance out of classroom more with some testifying that my enthusiasm for the material have motivated them to learn more.

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