“Teach and Train the present generation of learners with today’s knowledge but instill the vision to see through tomorrow’s problems with a chronic mindset to become Lifelong Learners”

KEY CONCEPT: Model respectful mentoring – Induce Critical Thinking -‘Develop Whole Individuals into Independent Educators’

*1. Continued commitment to a firm grounding in the science of the profession.

*2. Inclusion of an affective domain that would address personal and professional skills, attitudes and attributes required for the delivery of patient-centered care.

*3. Emphasis on what is unique to pharmacists and their role in healthcare.

*4. Enhanced clarity of terminology that aligns with the core content and language of other health professions,

*5. Outcomes that are forward thinking and aspirational, yet achievable and measurable,

*6. Creation of example learning objectives for each subdomain to guide programs in curricular revision and assessment.

My teaching philosophy emphasize CAPE outcomes #1, #3 and #5 and is based on multiple theories about how people learn. Students learn best by building relationships between new information and their existing body of knowledge. Such relationships provide the context that helps the student understand the deeper meaning behind the facts & cause of the information to acquire a degree of relevance. However, students must be active participants in the learning process, either learning by doing or learning by listening. By applying their new knowledge to non-trivial problems, students improve their retention of the knowledge and expand their set of skills. My goal, as a teacher, is to give students the intellectual tools they need to succeed in their profession in this post-genomic era (be a ‘Lifelong Learner’). I love teaching because it also provides an opportunity for me to share my fascination of science (by research) as well as the excitement of better understanding the world both around us and in us. Teaching is the only known instrument to disseminate innovative ideas generated via research, and the curriculum in pharmacy provides ample opportunity to experience such ideas in the classroom. Therefore, I inspire my students not to be a ‘monotonous thinker’ but to become an ‘open-minded-learner’!

The first and foremost thing that I do in a big classroom is to show respect and care for all students, regardless of their diversity and level of interest in the course. My father always taught me that if I ever should become a teacher, “Be like the fruit tree, people throw stones at them and they throw back fruits”. This philosophy sometimes tumbles, may not be the best philosophy in the 21st century post-genomic era. Learning is a complex, mutual process of growth and development identified by changes in the behavior of the learner. As an educator, I see my role much more multifaceted than just delivering course materials. On day-1, I make my expectations very clear. Besides learning the course contents, I expect my students to focus on their discipline (#1), respect their colleagues and to develop better time management skills. When I teach, my primary goal is to get the students to think. A core tenet of my teaching philosophy is that I believe students learn best when they feel a sense of ownership in the learning process and enjoy learning. I achieve this by being very friendly and approachable (open-door policy when I serve as an administrator).

I believe there is no single teaching recipe that is optimally applicable to every teacher; rather, I utilize whatever tools necessary to stimulate the maximum learning in students. This is necessary because overall chemistry of the students, in general, varies from year to year, class to class, course to course! Students learn in different manners and at different paces. It is often difficult to motivate students particularly for large classes when interaction between teacher and students is limited. Motivation occurs when students realize what they are learning is interesting, relevant & useful for their profession. I attempt to blend my presentations with the help of modern technology and real-life examples. If I have an experience or a joke about something related to my course, I will share it with the students in class. My jokes might not always be very funny, but they always pull the students’ attention back to the lecture and makes them more at ease to ask any questions. I try to create a stress-free atmosphere in which students feel comfortable in learning. I achieve this by being extremely patient. Some students may require more handholding than others, and I accomplish this by providing extra out-of-class time. I inevitably explain to the class why the course is structured in a certain way so that even if they do not like the course, they will understand the reasons for teaching it that way. This helps to establish a rapport with the students early in the semester. I have taught multiple pharmacy courses for decades; therefore, I try to push students’ imagination ‘to the limitless zone’ rather preaching ‘sky’s the limit’, I say ‘There is no limit’!!

Every student comes to the class with different needs and expectations, hence, each student needs to be treated as a unique individual. For this reason, I make an effort to get to know the names of the students. Usually I accomplish this either during a lab, recitation, or during proctoring an exam. This makes it easier to defuse anxiety to the point where the students feel comfortable asking me questions during the lecture. I try to face the class and make as much eye contact with the students as possible given my lecturing environment. I often stimulate classroom interaction by asking analytical questions. This creates a challenging environment and helps develop synthesis-level/critical thinking abilities. To recognize and reward those students who demonstrate these abilities is very satisfying.

I also make sure that when I am preparing notes for a particular topic, I am not teaching too much, or that I am not asking the students to do too much, or to perform beyond their expected level of performance. I understand that this can be very frustrating to the student. It is better for students to understand in depth on a few topics rather than to cover too many topics that they cannot benefit from at the end. Students remember their best teachers because their best teachers teach them something profound that they can carry with them throughout their life. I have experienced the best outcomes when appropriately designed team-based learning and active learning strategies are run alongside the didactic material- The key is the balance: I try to maintain a balance between the quality & the quantity of the material, relevance to the profession, global knowledge base with a futuristic attitude. What is the bottomline? ‘Show serious passion what I do’!

I believe a teacher must be a continual learner in the field of pedagogy in order to constantly culminate new and advanced technologies as well as to develop the best personalized and innovative teaching practices in order to realize his/her educational philosophy within the context of education in the 21st century. It is imperative to understand that handling post-genomic era millennials could be challenging but not impossible. The research arm provides the post-genomic era knowledge-base, forward-looking mentality and a 21st century vision. I sincerely believe that research and teaching both are vital to the learning process, and I have used both these skills at the Arnold & Marie Schwartz College of Pharmacy, at Manchester College of Pharmacy and at the Touro College of Pharmacy to become a Lifelong learner and a good teacher.