Hello! I am Leigh Turberville Harrell, Information Technology and Computer Science teacher at Jackson High School. I have been teaching at JHS since 2004.
My Teaching Philosophy
My teaching philosophy is based on an old Chinese proverb that states, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." Teaching has been nothing less than a joy for me these past few years. My base objective as a teacher is to be sure that my students learn the fundamental content of the courses that I teach. Currently I teach courses aimed at business and computer technology. Beyond the fundamentals of business and computer technology, I want my students to develop other proficiencies such as analytical thought process and life-long learning skills. Developing problem solving strategies and helping ease the transition from an educational setting to a career world full of information technology are also goals that I have set for myself as an educator.
My teaching methods may be perceived as more non-traditional than most educators. I am young and remember being in classrooms where informal lecturing was the only way that a teacher knew how to communicate the curricula. These classes, while exceptionally thorough, were utterly mundane to me and most of my classmates.
"The informal lecture is primarily used when presenting information to large groups. Since communication is mostly a one-way flow, teacher to student, student participation is severely limited. Due to many situations, primarily large classes, it may be the only practical method to use."
I try to never use informal lecture in my classes. If I do have to lecture, I try to incorporate as much student participation as feasible. I have been fortunate to teach students who thirst for the knowledge that I can bestow upon them about computer technology and this has helped me tremendously in engaging the class in lengthy discussion or even answering simple questions. While some educators feel that student participation is difficult to evaluate, I have found the exact opposite. A participation grade given once or twice a week right after the class usually helps me remember to think through who answered what and who brought up new topics for discussion. and even if a student only asks questions without ever giving any concrete answers, thought provoking questions are usually graded just as highly as answers; it shows that the students are thinking deeper into the topic than I have asked them to.
"The formal lecture includes allowing students to be a part of the process. When the primary objective of the lesson is to have active student participation, learning is best achieved if students are allowed to participate in a friendly, relaxed atmosphere."
With most of my formal lectures, I incorporate demonstration with hands-on learning throughout the lesson. This is the core of my teaching. Currently I teach the "computer classes" at my high school. It is very difficult to teach any kind of computer based curricula unless the students can follow along with a demonstration themselves. I took a visual basic programming class at Auburn University that was totally informal lecture with demonstration. Being one of the 200 students sitting in the computer-less auditorium watching my professor go through the steps to writing a simple program took much longer in this setting than it would have if we had been in a lab setting. No knowledge was gained in that class. The knowledge did not become interrelated until we were sent home to do our daily homework. Only then could we (if we were lucky) put into practice what our professor had tried so hard to explain with one computer and an LCD projector.
Something my father told me long ago sums my teaching philosophy very simply. You can watch baseball all your life. You can memorize the pitches and the batting averages of all your favorite players. You can know the plays by heart. But until you pick up that bat or that ball yourself, you will never know how to play baseball. This is why I incorporate hands-on learning into most of my lessons. I want my students to know how to hit every ball that comes across that plate when they leave my classroom at the end of the term.