Teaching and Mentoring Statement

Topics: Mentor

Being a professor is truly a societal privilege. It might not be for everyone because it comes with burdens and responsibilities. We are molding lives, and therefore, we must commit to the process of learning, and to the precise task of conquering the skill of teaching. I am blessed to have always wanted to be a professor. Because I vibrate with a love for teaching, I think a lot about what it means to teach, how to think about what to teach, and how to improve as an educator.

I have been fortunate to have had teaching and mentoring experiences throughout my undergraduate and graduate education, and I am excited to contribute to engineering education for the future generation.

As an undergraduate student at the Lebanese American University, I was a TA for four courses: Thermodynamics – Fluid Mechanics – Thermal System Design – and, Aircraft Design. Other than grading assignments and holding office hours, my primary role was to understand the professor’s objectives so I can work with students one-on-one, and learn about problems they were having with the course material.

I found that students sometimes learn better from their peers in certain concepts, more than from their professor. For this reason, I plan to include this active learning strategy by encouraging small-group discussions of 3-4 students. This informal atmosphere is a beneficial way for students to share ideas and create basic understanding, and perhaps, it will not be as overwhelming and intimidating as whole class discussions.

Although I was a graduate research assistant for five years at Virginia Tech, I still had ample opportunities to mentor students.

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The first was through the EFRI Research Experience and Mentoring (REM) Program, where I had the opportunity to mentor Sarah Loh, Emma Tulsky, and Christine Lambiase – three smart, undergraduate women from underrepresented minorities. My role as their mentor was to encourage them to pursue their interests, while engaging them in the learning process by providing the constructive and honest feedback and guidance they needed to meet their educational goals. I also supervised and provided guidance to, Alexander Edgerton, a master student, as he worked through his respective thesis. These opportunities helped me realize I obtained personal satisfaction from making a difference to the career development of another person. I enhanced my people skills in leadership, interpersonal skills, and communication; and I learned how to listen, validate, and most importantly, share.

While a postdoc at the University of Tennessee, I volunteered a total of 40 hours to host the High School Introduction to Engineering Systems for Twelfth Graders (HITES12) Program. This program selects rising seniors who demonstrate interests within science and math. (It was amusing to hear their fresh perspective on those topics.) I believe effective mentorship impacts K-12 students and strengthens their persistence in STEM majors. Not only did this program help increase my skills working with youth, but it also taught me how to provide meaningful opportunities to students in a supportive and safe environment. Finally, I had two opportunities to guest lecture a biomedical engineering class at the University of Tennessee: Biotransport Processes (BME 511) – a course that applies numerical methods to applications in systems, organs, cellular, and molecular systems. My first lecture was about the Hogkin-Huxley modeling of excitability and action potentials, while the second lecture focused on learning and memory in synapses. This experience opened a whole different side of the ‘presentation world’ to me. I realized I was not giving a fast-paced, 15-minute conference presentation, but rather having a relaxing and engaging conversation with ten students. I enjoyed learning how to refine my presentation skills to be more detailed yet focused, improve my delivery style, and most importantly, enhance the value of my presentation.

Throughout my experiences as a student and as a TA, my pedagogical approach has always been: Whatever it takes to get the “aha moment.” Recently I have developed an insight that effective teaching begins on focusing less on what technique or strategy to use, and more on why we are doing what we are doing. Rather than trying to develop a better strategy, I work on paying attention to the principles that sustain good teaching. Good teaching is not only about mastering the subject matter and giving a great performance, but it also means presenting information clearly and effectively. Nevertheless, if my lesson plans only met those standards, it does not mean I did my job correctly. Teaching is an exchange of ideas, talents, and life lessons, and students must participate in this exchange. When students take a test, they will not be graded on my sincerity and passion in teaching, but in lieu they are graded on what they know and how deeply it is integrated into their thinking.

My conception on learning and teaching form an “all-inclusive package”– I am confident that you cannot have one without the other. To me, it’s about:

• Self-reflection and constantly looking inward to discover your strengths and weaknesses to help understand the personality traits that are needed to further develop.

• Forming connections by creating a community atmosphere that will give students a sense of belonging that exceeds the classroom walls, and finally:

• Appreciating diversity, and not just by recognizing different ethnicities and religions, but by recognizing the needs of students with disabilities whose learning styles are different than others.

At the University of Georgia, I assisted in hiring both undergraduate and graduate students. I discovered the hiring landscape — from how to offer teaching and research assistantships to qualified degree-seeking international graduate students, to making sure our research group was both multicultural and talented.

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Teaching and Mentoring Statement. (2022, Apr 28). Retrieved from https://paperap.com/teaching-and-mentoring-statement/

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