My Teaching Philosophy

James McCormack’s Philosophy of Teaching I believe that teaching effectively is a partnership between instructor and students and engaging students to participate in class, to partner in the learning process, for students to accept a role in their learning experience, is the best method for students to understand and comprehend the course lessons. I like to use a hybrid method of instruction, combining lecture, conference and small group projects. The small group projects take place both in and outside of the classroom. In some of my recent courses, my students have worked with local small business to help improve the business and increase their learning with hands-on group projects. Some recent class projects have included improving customer flow for a bakery in Quincy, a marketing review for family restaurant in Randolph, customer and marketing analysis for an insurance agency in Newton and a project management plan for a federal agency in Natick. They key to student learning and engagement is to get student participation in the class and involvement within the cohort groups. I have followed Dr. Stephen Brookfield’s (University of St. Thomas, Minneapolis, MN) writing and speaking at conferences on engaging students. Dr. Brookfield’s experience with students is that a teacher must get students to speak and participate in the classroom by the second or third class session. A student that does not speak or participate by the second or third class, they will not be engaged for the rest of the course. I believe that it is my task to engage the students and seek their participation early in the class through a group exercise, class assignment or a conversation topic to generate student involvement. I like to use the case study method and assign students a project or problem to solve, using outside contact to help actual companies solve current issues or develop business practices. For a course that I teach at Emerson, The Business of Publishing, I have invited small, independent book publishers to my class to speak. The publishers discuss their plans for new books and the class is assigned to work with the publisher in groups to develop a marketing plan for the book. This benefits the students with a practical exercise to apply their classroom knowledge to a real world situation. It will also benefit them with a future business contacts, the opportunity to network and it provide a real solutions to a small business in need of help with a marketing plan. I bring in guest speakers from business to speak to students about current trends and practices and provide students with an opportunity to view how classroom theory is applied in actual practice. I find that using case studies and problems solving helps students comprehend course materials better through the experiential learning cycle and the chance to get their ‘hands on’ a practical challenge and experience the process of applying knowledge seeking solutions. Combining lecture, conference, group projects in and out of the class, guest speakers and working with practitioners helps my students to grasp the instruction and most importantly to apply the lessons to help the local community and further their knowledge and skills for their careers. Several students summed up their experience in my classes on the course evaluations and I use their quotations to demonstrate some select views on class. “In addition to just being excited about teaching, Jim brought in several guest speakers which really enhanced what I got out of the class. Each of the speakers was living and working in the medium we were discussing in class” “He also has a very natural way of encouraging discussion and allows students to participate and learn not only through his instruction, but also from the other students in the class.” “He provided hands-on, real-life techniques to something which seemed abstract at first. His teaching style was very energetic and he always kept the class moving at an interesting pace.” My teaching philosophy is to engage students in class, challenge them to take on a role in their learning, apply the lessons to practical situations and learn from assigned projects that also benefit the external organization the class is partnering with to develop a working solution to a current market situation.

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