CCSL Award Night, April 3, 2014

CCSL Award Night, April 3, 2014
Teaching Philosophy
Whywhathowwhat for?
Why do I teach?

My immediate response is to state that I love teaching. But my purpose is clear: I teach for the sake of learning. Educating students is my duty and my satisfaction as a professor, but students are not alone in this process: I, too, learn a great deal through teaching.
My colleagues, my students and I form a learning community which provides more than collaboration, sharing, and acquisition of knowledge. As one of my students told me a few years ago, "Beyond all you taught me, what I most appreciate is that you gave me confidence in myself." Her commentary aptly explains my reason for teaching.
Like many Concordia students, this student was the first member of her family to attend university. I am proud to be part of an institution whose main objective is to make higher education accessible to thousands of students who might otherwise not be able to study at university. I enthusiastically adhere to Concordia University's mission: excellence is meaningless unless it serves the common good of society.

What do I teach?
I teach Hispanic literary and cultural studies and language at intermediate and advanced undergraduate levels. As a leading world language, Spanish can be used in a vast range of social, cultural, and economic activities. In addition to teaching proficiency, my teaching allows students to enter diverse realms of Latin American cultures and modes of inquiry.
Learning a language is obviously much more than to assimilate a series of grammar rules, oral and written skills, and good pronunciation. I believe that my teaching of Spanish as a written and spoken language, along with Latin American literary and cultural studies, allows my students an entry into the different realms of Latin American cultures, inaccessible to those who do not function in the language and who are not aware of cultural differences.

How do I teach?
In the case of language or Grammar courses, learning is focused on a variety of strategies which encourage students to participate actively in the process of learning (reading of recent articles and texts from different sources; listening of a variety of authentic spoken texts; role-playing; pair work, team work, and group discussion, etc.).
In culture and literature courses, I vary my strategies depending on multiple factors, especially class size and students' more or less homogeneous background. I frequently use the following strategies:
  • articulating introductory meta-narrative and objectives: just as in my research, as a teacher I create an unresolved "problem" or heuristic device that the students and I are to deal with during the course;
  • using diverse detailed activities and parameters, oral and written, to ensure that prior to class the students read the texts and respond to them actively (prereading, homework, possibility of in-class quizzes, etc.;
  • establishing an optimal balance (depending on particular circumstances) of lecture, small-group open discussion, debate, oral presentations, and multi-media, visual, or audio demonstrations (technology classroom techniques such as PowerPoint and Internet demonstrations to support a lecture or discussion).
In addition to concrete classroom methods, I endeavour to enhance the effectiveness of the course and the aim to foster independent, critical thinkers by developing and implementing online course materials which facilitate the active construction of knowledge by the students themselves. (I keep an online site for each course which is constantly updated after every class.)
Given my passion for teaching, I am always keen to acquire new techniques and skills to enhance my teaching and to continue the process of discovery with my students.

What do I teach for?
My teaching ideal is to create a dialogic atmosphere in which all students feel involved and responsible for their own success. Through my exchanges inside and outside of class, I encourage students to think independently and critically, to express themselves with clarity, precision, and style, to master generalized and specialized knowledge in contexts that have relevance to the world, and to develop a commitment to life-long learning and self-development.

2024  José Antonio Giménez Micó