My philosophy for teaching has been shaped by my interactions with teachers, students, and professional performers of many different backgrounds. These interactions and other experiences in my own life have shown me that my teaching should be based around four goals: to continually reflect upon and improve my own skills, to encourage self-discovery and creativity, to help students develop critical-thinking and problem-solving skills, and to give them the non-cognitive life skills necessary for success in any field. These goals apply to my students as well; their studies should help them determine their own aspirations and become inquisitive, self-motivated learners.
I believe in a pluralistic view of learning theories; many theories are valid, one theory does not fit all students, and the best theory for a given student will change as their own circumstances change. For example, a very creative and motivated student with a significant background in music may benefit from an eclectic, active-learning based approach, working with other students on special assignments such as study groups for orchestral excerpt practice or attending jam sessions. Students with a limited background, or with habits that impede their performance may require a behaviorist approach. This may be as simple as requiring a student to repeat something until a technical issue has been resolved before moving on, or as complex as creating and enforcing a structured, timed practice regimen with repeated evaluation of progress by peers or the instructor.
Assessment within my instruction is both ipsative and normative. The ipsative aspect of my assessment generally involves performance and lesson recordings, which allows me to evaluate progress throughout a semester or year. These recordings also allow the student to reflect upon their own progress and explore how to proceed. In normative assessment, the students are assessed in comparison to one another; this most often occurs during studio performance days and in jury performances. Though there always minimum performance standards that must be met, I find that having fixed criteria (such as assigning all incoming students the same repertoire) to be an ineffective and often stifling method of assessment.
To improve as a teacher, I consult with experienced teachers, advisers, administrators, and other staff to interpret student evaluations and develop new teaching approaches as needed. I try to maintain an open classroom environment and encourage observation by other instructors. I have also continued taking lessons on my primary instrument to develop further as a professional player, and to encounter new teaching styles.
Ultimately, all of my teaching is student-centered. I strive to maintain positive relationships with my students by being adaptable, encouraging, humble, and by framing instruction as a collaborative experience. My instruction is based on their needs, and they are assessed according to their self-improvement. I constantly strive to improve as a teacher in order to provide my students with the most engaging and informative experience possible.