2021 Teaching Academy New Members
What inspires you to teach?
I have the privilege of teaching a wide array of learners--child musicians, adult hobbyists, advanced pianists, and students becoming music educators themselves. With each of these individuals, there is exciting possibility for growth at every step of the learning process. Guiding and witnessing positive changes in students from day 1 is what energizes me. Knowing that I am a vital part of transformative experiences that bring joy, build confidence, and keep the arts alive is what serves as my driving force.
I do not care for public speaking and I would never have imaged myself as an instructor and yet, here I am, teaching and speaking to students on a daily basis. And I love it! I am thrilled when students ask me thought provoking questions. I am excited to see them understand a difficult topic. I truly enjoy seeing them succeed. Students make my life interesting and I look forward to them just about every day.
I see learning as a two-way process – I learn as much from my students who are current practitioners and scholars in the field as I provide them through my scholarship and practice in the discipline. My desire and goal as a teacher is that my students benefit from my time with them. I perceive I can accomplish this as long as I am vested in the personal enrichment of each student, and that I maintain a respectful and inclusive learning environment. My students inspire me to be a life-long learner of teaching – a craft that I perceive needs continuous nurturing.
To teach is to learn. And I learn every day. Classrooms are an incubator for my students' knowledge, but also for mine. How can I do this better? What do they need? How can I prepare them to enter a professional world that can be invigorating, or unkind? As students enter my classroom, I put those questions at the forefront. My inspiration comes from them.
The greatest inspiration for teaching in my experience comes when the students discover their own voice. In Leadership and Ethics, it is important that the students take ownership of their foundation. There is a point, almost like a light being turned on, when this occurs. When we succeed in our role as teachers, the students now develop their own rubrics that will guide them on their life's journey.
Teaching is the most exciting thing I can imagine doing. It's an act of intimacy with other human beings – connecting, questioning, challenging, opening up, creating, discovering. An ideal interaction with students is when we all leave revved up - or reconsidering. Teaching at the university gives us a chance to share the work we do in the community, to bring varied experiences and voices to the conversation.
I love philosophy. Start with a question such as “Why trust science?” and a philosopher will immediately ask, “What do you mean by ‘science' – the people involved? Products such as vaccines? Or every detail of some general background theory? And what do you mean by ‘trust'?” Working through these kinds of questions is important – and exciting! Teaching philosophy to students is just doing philosophy with them—what could be better?
Feruzan Irani Williams
What can be said about teaching? It is as precise as a science and as liberal as art. W. A. Ward suggested that a mediocre teacher tells, a good teacher explains, a superior teacher demonstrates, and a great teacher inspires. I have, and I always will, work relentlessly toward inspiring my students, as I truly believe that it is the greatest gift a teacher can give their students.