Teaching Goal: My teaching goal is to bring relevant and current material to the classroom that encourages students to think critically about the courses, related theory, and professional practice of advertising, public relations and strategic communication.
Teaching Philosophy: Often the literature suggesting best practices for writing good teaching philosophies poses the question of how one’s background influences their teaching style. If I had to point to one crucial moment that influenced my teaching it would have to be a day in one of the final courses for my doctorate. The course was taught by a professor I had thought was brilliant. I was eager to learn as much as possible sitting at the feet of this master scholar. Yet, as the semester progressed, I realized that much of what he presented was “canned” material that he had used in a variety of classes. On some days, he seemed more in autopilot mode than educator mode. My frustration level hit its peak the day we spent the entire class explaining the plot of a novel and I left the classroom making a snide comment to a friend that, “I must be a freaking genius” because I did not need the plot of the book explained to me. I followed that statement by saying that the professor “must be bored out of his mind” dealing with the class. Of course, when I looked behind me there was the professor, who had most likely overheard my comment, with a commiserating look on his face.
My approach to teaching is to constantly strive to look at the material from new angles or new teaching methods to keep my students motivated. Because advertising is a more practical area of study, I strive for students to leave with foundational pieces of information from each course that they can implement in their future professions. These ideas are sprinkled throughout the courses. For example, the concept of the SWOT analysis from the introductory advertising course as a foundation for client research, the concept of the big idea informing all effective ads from copywriting, or how to use design elements to create a campaign that looks cohesive from the campaigns course. Built into this practical learning is the theory behind each of the ideas. In fact, I am among those who believe that it is detrimental to try to divide the practical from the theory. As Leonardo Da Vinci is often quoted of saying, “He who loves practice without theory is like the sailor who boards the ship without a rudder and a compass and never knows where he may cast.” Therefore, it is my duty to make sure that the students not only know concepts and how to implement them, but also the why and the theoretical process behind their actions.
Additionally, my experiences have made me more aware of the fact that not everyone has the same style of learning. With this in mind, I try to present information in class from a variety of approaches; usually starting out with a traditional approach and then moving to a more interactive approach. For example, in the introductory public relations course when talking about the history of public relations which focuses on P.T. Barnum and sensational publicity at all costs, the initial introduction to the material is a typical lecture-discussion approach. However, the second day that we expand on the material will have students trying to write a piece of public relations material in the sensational publicity mode and one in a non-sensational mode. They are asked to share their writing with the class and discuss how they felt while coming up with both pieces of writing. This way, both experiential and traditional learners have equal opportunity to grasp the material in a way that is comfortable for them. It also gives students a point of reference for how effective public relations should feel as opposed to scandalous public relations.