This is my 28th year of teaching at the college level. I didn’t originally plan to be a college professor; in fact, after earning my MBA, I worked in industry for a number of years. In 1982 I moved to Texas and decided to apply for an adjunct position at a community college, mainly because the campus was less than a mile from my house. The surprise for me was that I found out that I loved teaching. I had no idea what I was doing, obviously had never put together a syllabus, lecture notes, or relevant assignments before, but I knew from the first class that this was the career I wanted. After I taught for three years there, the provost suggested I go back to school and earn a Ph.D. in order to teach full-time.
Over the years, I have developed the following list of goals when determining the course design, assignments, and evaluation methods I use in my courses.
What am I trying to do in my classes?
• Help students integrate the knowledge they have already acquired with the concepts, methods, ideas, and theories of management. This is done by helping them see the interrelationships between psychology, sociology, political science, history, ethics, philosophy, literature, etc.
• Give students a sound background and foundation of the history of management in order to help them understand how various theories were developed and tested and why these theories have either been discarded or are still in use today.
• Develop a common body of knowledge in management terminology.
• Emphasize importance of management concepts not only to management majors but to anyone who works with others in organizations.
• Teach students the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that will enable them to do well in their chosen careers. At times, this includes short lessons in professionalism and corporate etiquette.
• Help students develop an understanding of others with different backgrounds, cultures, genders, capabilities, etc. through the use of videos, reaction papers, classroom discussions, and guest speakers.
• Develop assignments that require the students to practice communication skills, both written and oral. I give each student individual feedback on his or her presentation skills and how to improve these.
• Work on developing skills in team building, leadership, motivation, quality control, listening, consensus building, creativity, and flexibility.
• Understand the importance of humor in the classroom and in the workplace.
• Give prompt feedback on tests, papers, and presentations. Typically that means within one week of when the assignment is turned in.
• Use current technology such as blogs, wikis, and other social media formats in order to show the students how these could be applied to the work world setting. Make sure I keep up-to-date on technology myself.
• Provide “real-world” exposure through assignments such as interviewing a manager or working with a company on management-related problems.
• Reinforce values of attendance, promptness, turning work in on time, treating others with respect, and professionalism in appearance and conduct.
In other words, I am trying to create a classroom culture that will challenge, motivate, sometimes even frustrate students, but which allows them to learn not only about management but about themselves if they want to. I believe this is an ongoing process and thus, I am still developing my philosophy of teaching and what it means to be an educated person.
One of the secrets to success that I share with my students is to pick a career that you really love, so much so that you really enjoy going to work. I tell them that way you will be intrinsically motivated to do your best every day. I have enjoyed teaching for the past 28 years and hope to continue for many years to come.