"IN DEED THE MASSENGER OF ALLAH YOU HAVE THE MOST BEAUTIFUL EXAMPLE"
Teaching has all along been a passion for me. For the past 10 years I have been teaching Mathematics to students of various levels from College to the university level. Since September 2012, I am engaged in fulltime teaching profession as a Lecturer of Mathematics in Department of Mathematics at College of Business Administration, Hotat Bani Tamim, Prince Sattam Bin Abdulaziz University, Saudi Arabia.
Over many years as both a teacher and student of mathematics, there are several fundamental tenets of teaching and learning that I am continually rediscovering:
• Mathematics is not a spectator sport.
• Mathematics is incredibly fascinating if properly motivated and explained, and incredibly dull if poorly motivated and explained.
• Mathematics is a language apart from English, and a language that many students do not speak.
These tenets shape my philosophy of teaching and learning, as well as influence my actions as both a teacher and a student, inside and outside of the classroom. Each of these basic tenets is worth elaboration.
Mathematics has become an integral part of our everyday life and Mathematicians have been successful in various areas apart from being a Mathematician. So I also ensure to create awareness to the students about various openings available in the Society such as IT Field, Finance, and Engineering to Mathematicians during lecture sessions.
Teaching various courses in mathematics normally people classify students as good or intelligent students and weak students. But in my opinion there is nothing like strong or weak students but only there are two classifications – Fast Learners and Slow Learners, although I am a teacher, I still learn. We learn the art of teaching and getting better every day in our professional life since we change our strategies for teaching the same course to different sections of students.
Over the years I found that giving a brief review of all related basic concepts in the first couple of lectures makes the students have a grip on the subject and have a quick refresher of all essential formulae, axioms and theorems which they learnt in the previous semesters thereby they don’t find difficulty in the course they pursue in the present semester. Moreover, whatever be the level of the program I teach, I ensure that my active strategies involve not only examples but also interactive sessions.
My goal as a math teacher then is the cultivation of a fully human person, to reinstate confidence in and reclaim human powers, in a more student-oriented way a la Carl Rogers. Math makes a great human being who can marvel at achievements of the human mind, is able to take joy in complex endeavors for its own sake, care for the human adventure rather than grades.
Textbooks have side notes on mathematicians but at best it is lip service. There is no time for appreciation of history. And I can’t ask students to change their bodily habits. I had to focus on things that could be done. I decided to present myself as the “face” and “body” of the math I wanted to see in the world, as the example of a person who loves math, is playful in a healthy body, enjoys mental challenges and embodies the good human values curiosity, independence, inquiry. I observed that slowly it rubs off on students. I want to erase the stereotypical idea of math and a mathematician. I want to cultivate good human beings so I’m looking for qualitative results, but I also want them to keep doing well by understanding the material, not by proceeding. I want them to understand that mathematical writing is aesthetic very much like writing literature, you write it for an audience, not to get grades.
I like to have an interactive classroom, whether that interaction is between me and the students, or between the students themselves. I believe that lecturing should not be a one-way communication system. It should be more of a dialogue between instructor and student. I think it is important that the students are constantly a part of the process of their own learning; they need to be thinking, they need to be talking about what they are thinking. That is why I try to make my classroom an environment where all the students feel safe to venture a response, or make a comment, or ask a question, no matter how stupid or trivial or wrong it sounds to me or any of the other students.
While I lecture I am constantly posing questions to the students, and the intention is that they respond to those questions, or at the very least think deeply about them. I believe that the key to being a good teacher of mathematics is to get the students involved in their own education, and get them excited about it. I like to see my students succeed, and I am sad if they do not do well. After each exam, I write the distribution of the scores on the board, so each student can get an idea of where she or he stands within the class.
The most important lesson regarding teaching that I’ve learned in more than twenty years as a student and ten years as a teacher is that the students we teach are no different than we as students. They may be less motivated, less interested, or less adept mathematically, but fundamentally they learn best in the same conditions that we do. As educators we need to understand student motivation, interest, and skills and adapt the content and pedagogy around them. My hope for the future is to become both a better teacher and a better learner, transferring my knowledge and experience between the two.
Allah Almighty says: “And the Moon is eclipsed, and the Sun and the Moon are fused together, on that Day man will ask: “Where can I run?” No indeed! There will be no safe place. That Day, the only resting place will be your Lord.” (Qur’an, 75: 8-12)
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