Teaching philosophy:

Contextual based teaching, improvisation, and the brain

by raluca

Teaching philosophy:

Contextual based teaching, improvisation, and the brain

by raluca

by raluca
Teaching

Teaching: Improvisation, Context, and the Brain

At the time of writing this statement, I am employed at the IT University of Copenhagen as a Ph.D. Fellow, focused on Digital Leadership and Emotions in Information Systems.

So far, I have served as a Teaching Assistant on two courses: “Navigating Complexity,” and “Digital Change Management,” where I had the responsibility for the exercise seminars throughout the whole semester. Additionally, I have taught Digital Leadership to undergraduate and graduate students, as well as to executives, aligned to their course curricula. I have also supervised two master theses: one on emotional intelligence in digital leadership, and a second one about the management of technostress. You can read more about my teaching portfolio here.

In my role as a teacher, I see myself as a device for transmitting research ideas from my head to that of my students. As such, I must be aware of and up-to-date with the latest research and trends within the areas that I teach and find the best ways to convey those ideas to my students. I don’t want to only transmit ideas; I want my students to engage with the ideas and transform them into personal experiences.

“Here and now” and improvisation

When I teach and stand in front of my students, I step into a place of being attuned to my students. I teach in the “here and now,” without expectations of how things should go. Although I have a teaching plan and a structured presentation, I am open to that technology might fail, that certain topics require more explanation, or that I might have an idea in the middle of the lecture for a game that will help students understand even better. I have developed a non-judgmental attitude towards the “here and now” from the improvisation and comedy courses that I took.

Contextual based teaching

I create and understand the world we all meet in: I am attuned to the time and space, the topic, the number of students, their previous courses. I am sensitive to the light, the air, how much they will be seated for while I teach, or their attention span. For example, when I know my students have been in class the whole day, I make sure to use more entertainment (e.g., videos, songs).

The brain on learning

I set the stage and the atmosphere of respect, fun, and curiosity and most of the time, my students follow me in this space. As a teacher, I am a leader, and the neurobiology of leadership informed me about how my mood has a ripple effect on my students1.  As such, if I am in a good mood, my students will follow.

I co-create the lectures with my students and try to find as much interactivity as possible. In my teaching experience so far, I have learned that students are already familiar to some of the topics that I teach, but sometimes they don’t know it. I try to find examples as close to them as possible – so that when they associate what I teach with what they already know, I increase the chances for them to remember. The power of association is also a concept borrowed from neuroscience2.

In sum, I believe teaching is about transmitting information, which my students can transform into their own experience. I can control how I transfer information, and I keep in mind to have a non-judgmental attitude, as well as be aware of the environment and best practices in teaching, to give my students the best starting point for transforming the information into their understanding.

 

References

1Goleman, D. and Boyatzis, R., 2008. Social intelligence and the biology of leadership. Harvard business review, 86(9), pp.74-81.

2Ghadiri, A., Habermacher, A. and Peters, T., 2013. Neuroleadership: A journey through the brain for business leaders. Springer Science & Business Media.

Picture of Raluca Stana
RALUCA STANA 
Ph.D. FELLOW, IT UNIVERSITY OF COPENHAGEN, DENMARK

I research digital leadership and emotions in information systems.

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