My Teaching Philosophy
Teaching because life is all about learning
Ever since I was young, I had a fascination in building and creating. When I was 4 years old, I asked for a bridge on the Potomac from my mother as a birthday gift. I would ponder in thought looking up at the majestic, heavens-bound, verticality of the Rockefeller Center. I loved the beauty of the physical creations of humankind – how humans organize and structure the physical world. I teach architecture, planning, project development, sustainability, and human ecology because this organization of the physical world affects not only society but by extension economics, geography, and culture – humankinds destiny.
One word stands out as truly meaningful to me when I teach: CARING. I make myself continuously conscious of my sincerity in my concern for students under my supervision. Genuine caring for their welfare means that I make sure that I am fully competent with what is expected of me, that I strive to be at the forefront of my field, that I listen to their concerns and always act with empathy, and always open and prepared for come what may.
I believe that the origin of the human genius is creativity – and this creativity can only reach its full potential in a learning environment that is democratic, open, and respectful – where the teacher does not hold the monopoly in knowledge, where peer collaboration, partnerships, and authentic learning play an important role in the learning process (Davies, et al., 2013). I allow my students the flexibility to use their time to learn with a pace that recognizes their personal abilities, to focus on things that interest them, and allowing them to discover using as many modes of learning and media technology. I recognize that every student has great potential and that every ability is useful in constructing meaning in their own terms. I approach fostering critical thinking by always framing the world as if it were new – the student reasons not only with theory but by expounding on the dynamics of the world’s realities building upon what they know. I encourage my students to look at the world and its problems and to always find something new, something innovative, something exciting – something that will inspire them to act, to be curious – of each and every underlying layer. Not asking why once, but many times so that these layers are unraveled.
The gift and joy of knowing and being a productive member of society is a human dignity. The ultimate goal when I teach is to make my students curious for life and wanting to earn dignity by being productive. Praxis that results in a socially-relevant or civic-minded outcome is my gauge of effectiveness. When I have students who, outside the classroom, succeed in applying their learning in the real world of life – bringing their own idea and translating that into action – then I know that somehow, my teaching has been a success. In practical terms, I use different assessment techniques to gauge my students learning as no single assessment can truly capture the level of what they have learned. When a student completes a course and exhibits a thirst to know more, then I can say my teaching has been a success. When a student has the initiative to go the extra mile to submit superior work, then I can say my teaching has been a success.
I take my mentoring role very seriously. Inside and outside of the university, I recognize that teachers are not only teachers inside the classroom but can influence so much of the life of the student outside the classroom. Students come to ask about their life, their future career, and other general issues they may have about the program. I make sure that I allot generous time to each student who needs guidance and consulting. In my teaching, I love coming up with new ideas, or improving on them, or mixing and combining – seeing new solutions to problems using new ways of looking at things. This has allowed me to be flexible and innovative with my teaching style and instructional materials. Finally, my own curiosity in knowing more and my faith in the knowledge creation of others through collaboration helps in creating new innovative learning experiences for my students and continually improving on them.
■ Aaron Julius M. Lecciones, UAP, MSc (8 January 2015, updated 14 April 2022)
Davies, D., Jindal-Snape, D., Collier, C., Digby, R., Hay, P., & Howe, A. (2013). Creative learning environments in education—A systematic literature review. Thinking Skills and Creativity, 80-91.
Aaron Julius M. Lecciones
Licensed and Registered Architect
Planner, Designer, and Educator.