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STATEMENT OF PURPOSE ON TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

I believe teaching is a noble profession and only a few can do exceptionally well in it
because it entails incessant mastery of subject matter, great passion for it, and the inordinate
desire to impart this passion in your students. My teaching philosophy is as a product of my
upbringing, my experience as a teacher and also as a student for more than two decades ago, in
both US and Africa. Although my parents never stepped into a classroom, their aspiration to
invest in knowledge by taking us to school regardless of financial constraints inspired me a lot to
strive to learn and pass the knowledge to others. My first formal teaching experience was in
Kenya and this transpired immediately after finishing high school when I was hired as un-trained
(UT) primary school teacher for one year in my village. This first teaching experience indeed
was an eye-opener to appreciate the challenges teachers face in disseminating knowledge. It also
helped me appreciate the different paces of cognitive development in children and kept me busy
during the two-year period of waiting for admission to public university. I later pursued a bachelor
of education science degree [B.Ed (Sci)] in my undergraduate studies which provided the
foundations for effective teaching and for inspiring the desire to learn in my students, as well as
solidified my interest in placing an emphasis on teaching and mentoring in my academic career.

As a graduate student at Binghamton University, I have had opportunities to teach a
range of courses in Chemistry ranging from freshmen general chemistry to upper level
undergraduate chemistry as a Teaching assistant and as a class instructor. I have interacted with
students with varied personal characteristics and diverse career majors. As a teacher, I feel that it
is my mission rather than just my obligation to devotedly dedicate my service to my students and
their learning for the entire period of the course and impact their lives beyond classroom. My
pedagogic approach to teaching centers foremost on providing the best possible conducive
learning environment, offer various techniques of learning material and tools that are
fundamental for my students to learn. To have a positive class atmosphere, I try to invest time in
building a rapport with my students by encouraging active class participation by asking questions
and allowing students to ask questions about the subject in order to gauge their understanding
and the pace of assimilation of the learning material. Furthermore, I do not just expect respect from my students, but I treat them with the same kind of respect and show that I care about them
and I am interested in their learning.
The most intuitive lesson from my experiences as a student and as a teacher which I
strongly consider important for successful class instruction is to set course/class objectives right
at the beginning, elucidate how to achieve them, and explain the expected end-results to your
students. This may sound obvious, but many teachers seem to know their expectations of
students but they inadequately communicate them to their students in advance. During my
undergraduate studies, I learned that most students strive to excel in semester examinations and
they do everything possible to achieve this. During the examination period, most students engage in
what I consider unorthodox study methods such as rote learning to grasp the material and beat time.
As a teacher, I encourage my students to strive to understand the concepts rather than study for
sake of passing tests because I believe that comprehension of the learning material leads to an
instinctive excellence in examinations as well.
To impart knowledge more efficiently, I strongly believe in embracing new technology of
polling devices like i-Clicker to encourage active participation and class attendance. This
gives an instant analysis as to whether the students follow you or not, and in case of comprehension
is low; I quickly formulate an action plan to clarify the concept under discussion. Having gone
through a challenging education system in Africa where students have the perception that sciences
and especially chemistry is difficult; I desire as a teacher to demystify the impression that
chemistry is a difficult subject. Encouraging student-driven learning is effective in breaking hard
concepts for students to understand. To illustrate my point here, in my lectures, I encourage
small-group problem-solving sessions, random quizzes, class-demonstrations, and use eyecatching & intriguing lecture presentations furnished with easy to understand concepts.
Finally, I strongly believe that instilling confidence and being tactfully friendly to
students without necessarily spoon-feeding them or guiding them in a step by step learning will
help students appreciate their abilities. Borrowing from my experience as a student, I nurture
critical thinking by encouraging students to solve problems on the blackboard in front of the whole
class and when stuck they pass-on the chalk to another student until the problem is solved. In a
laboratory setting, guiding students to correlate the theoretical concepts and the hands-on
experiments help them to understand the concepts well and retain the knowledge forever.