Philosophy of Teaching
Dr. Kim's approach to teaching has always involved modifying and improving her teaching skills based on the constantly evolving ways in which students learn. Most often these changes are subtle, but on occasion, they can be significant. However, the importance of change is not a function of how little or how much; rather, her primary focus is on how her teaching methods can be enhanced to better serve the needs of her students. The core elements of her teaching philosophy ­involves creating a stimulating and challenging learning environment, effective mentoring, and respecting differences. These principals are the same ones that she had when I began her career as an English teacher in Korea. However, her ability to enhance and to integrate these key elements inevitably requires the skills that she has acquired and continues to acquire from learning as she is teaching. Her first teacher taught her that great teachers are in fact, students themselves, and that it is crucial for teachers to learn as much from their students as their students learn from them.

Maintaining High Expectations: Dr. Kim believes that teaching is more than just presenting information, facts, and ideas. She believes that a good teacher must encourage curiosity, imagination, cultural awareness, tolerance, and respect. She believes that great teachers demonstrate their respect for students by establishing and maintaining high standards. This seems to be appreciated by her students at WM because one comment:
“Dr. Kim’s class was a refreshing break from most classes in the school of education: She was energetic, personable, funny, and knowledgeable. And, thankfully, her class was not, as virtually all education classes are, pathetically (and disgracefully) easy. Rather it was challenging, not over-the –top hard but challenging (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Dr. Kim also believes that acquiring knowledge is a challenge to students’ intellect, beliefs, and imagination. However, she has found that when she presses students to think in terms of being creative and unique with respect to their literature reviews and research proposal papers, many of them are surprised at what they can accomplish .This also seems to be valued by her students at WM because one commented:

“Dr. Kim had high expectations for us, but gave specific feedback to get us to where we needed to be. I [could] really tell like Dr. Kim wanted me to succeed in her class. I learned so much about myself as a person while I was taking this class. It challenged me in ways I have never been challenged before, and I completed this course a better and a stronger student. Dr. Kim cares about her students, and about the teaching profession. She sets the bar VERY high, but offers ANY and EVERYTHING to help her students reach it. F65 was a challenging course, but definitely one of the best I‘ve taken her at the college (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Dr. Kim also believes that teachers must be willing to compliment, correct, and critique their students in detail. She has learned that it is difficult for some students to accept corrections, but she tells them to view her corrections as challenges rather than rejections. She spends so much time correcting and restructuring the organization of students’ papers that some view it as being too critical. However, many of them have told her that they consider this to be a valuable learning experience and a necessary part of their education. As one of her students at WM commented:

Dr. Kim “Provided continuous feedback throughout the semester in order to all assignments were helpful to grasp the key concepts of the course, improve quality of work, and understand the concepts. Very open to providing extra assistance when needed. Asked for feedback from students throughout the semester in order to improve the course. Professor exhibits enthusiasm about the subject matter (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Another student commented:
“It was a lot of work, but it was far worth it. I feel much more confident in my research abilities. Dr. Kim was incredibly helpful during the duration of this class. She is extremely committed to helping her students learn. Her devotion and insightful feedback really helped me to learn more and improve my research proposal. I’m thankful she was my professor for this class (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Dr. Kim strongly believes that a rigorous Research Methods course is one of the most important courses for preparing students for graduate level studies. Taught properly, Research Methods has the potential to transform graduate students into professional teachers or into professional researchers. The course encourages thoughtful analyses and critical evaluations of published journal articles with rigorous standards. She tries to transform graduate students’ outlooks from that of a consumer of knowledge to a producer of knowledge so that they can achieve, at the very least, a thorough understanding of these standards. This seems to be respected by her students at WM because one commented:

“Dr. Kim is a fabulous teacher! She gives such incredible feedback, and it really helped me to learn. Throughout undergrad, [I] never had a teacher give as much feedback. She was very accessible despite having A LOT of students. She always responded to emails quickly. The course content was very challenging, and it was a lot of work, but Dr. Kim’s organization, feedback, and help made it doable. I learned A TON and now feel very confident in my ability to understand educational research. Before this class, I had never even read any research. Dr. Kim’s open and fun personality made what could have been a very mundane class enjoyable. I thoroughly enjoyed getting to know her and learning from her. I definitely give her two thumbs WAY UP! She is a very caring and passionate teacher (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Dr. Kim is cognoscente the fact that there is a fine line between high expectations and unreasonable expectations. Although her self-analysis suggests that sometimes she may dance around the line, she must teach according to her beliefs. She sets high expectations for herself and her students, and she believes that students will respond to most of the challenges they are presented with. If they are convinced that Dr. Kim believes in them, they begin to believe in themselves, and their potential can be realized. She sets the bar higher than what most students expect to achieve and call on students to challenge themselves and to assume responsibility for their own learning. Setting the bar high, without setting it too high, has been a challenge to her teaching principles. She also understands that some students can feel frustration, anger, and fatigue when too much is expected from them. Thus, her personal challenge comes from learning how to create appropriate quizzes and tests, how many assignments to give, and how to create appropriate assignments. She has learned that self-improvement can only be achieved with time, effort, and the awareness necessary to recognize superior teaching methods. Her objective is to challenge students as much as she can while providing them with the help they require to succeed. Her students must earn their grades (she does not believe in giving grades), and this is central to her teaching philosophy. As such, she will do anything she can to help her students. As one of them commented:

“Challenging and supportive instructor. Instructor has high expectations, but strives to ensure students are successful. Very knowledgeable in the area of research and writing. Provided excellent feedback on intensive and scholarly writing (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Helping students in any ways possible. I believe that a teacher’s primary responsibility is to enable students to develop their maximum human potential, to explore possibilities, and to seek opportunities for growth and development. To help students realize these aspirations, I have mentored my students. I encourage them to set goals and guide them to develop and to find their optimal learning style, and I help them overcome any anxieties. My greatest reward often comes after each semester is over when students visit me and share their excitement about achieving a goal that they did not even dream of before, and when I encounter students who became confident about the subject that I had taught. This seems to be a value that is appreciated by my students at WM as one commented:

“I really enjoyed the challenge this class presented. I learned a lot because I had never taken a research class before, and I feel I am well prepared to conduct research and evaluate research in the field in order to practice evidence-based teaching. I truly admire and respect Dr. Kim and enjoyed having her as a professor (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

It has long been clear to me that students must challenged students if they are to discover the path that will lead them to surpassing their own expectations. However, I also believe that it is not enough for a teacher to maintain high expectations of students without providing the support necessary for students to reach these expectations. High expectations and my willingness to assist are the primary themes that are mentioned in my students’ course evaluations. I challenge my students, and I admit that at times and for some students it can be overwhelming. However, I also go out of my way to assist them in meeting that challenge. I make myself available to students in my office as well as my own home. As long as a student demonstrates a willingness to learn, I will find a way to reach them. It takes time, persistence, and dedication, but I believe that this is one of the most notable aspects of my teaching. This also seems to be appreciated by my students at WM because one commented:
“(She was) incredibly willing to go the extra mile to help any student who needed help with anything (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Another commented:
“We were fortunate to have Dr. Kim who is obviously incredibly talented and absolutely knows her subject. In the past 16 years of my education, from Kindergarten to college graduation, I don't know that I have had a professor dedicate as much time to her students as Dr. Kim. She is truly a gift to the college of William & Mary. I only regret that I don’t get to experience another class with her L (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Yet another student commented:
“Dr. Kim is the MOST helpful professor in the program. She is exceptionally and overly willing to aid her students in any way possible, to a fault. She made sure to give extra and needed care to any potential cultural issues, and was more available to students than all other ed. professors combined. The class was hard, but fair (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Students are individuals and are often busy, so I take an active role in my students' education and try to shape their educational experience. I believe that developing a positive rapport with my students is crucial. If my students feel that I am approachable and have their best interests at heart, they will ask questions more frequently both inside and outside class. Furthermore, they will be more likely to seek out my assistance if they are struggling. As one of my students at WM commented:
“Dr. Kim goes out of her way to meet with students and help. As an instructor, she made me feel that she was very invested in my success and really wanted to assist me in any way that she could. On assignments she provided a lot of feedback in order to improve the quality of work. She was very flexible, and always notified us about deadlines (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ‘09).”

One strategy I use to develop a positive relationship with my research students is to require each student to e-mail me with his or her research topic and schedule an appointment to meet and discuss it. I spend between 30 to 60 minutes at the beginning of the semester with each student so that I can approve their choice of topics for their final projects. This approach allows me start them off on the right path with their projects and causes the students feel more comfortable about approaching me. Many of my students have commented on this aspect of my teaching style:
Dr. Kim values relationships. It was nice to feel, not just think, that I was not just a number. She presented the material in a very user friendly manner which helped increase comprehension. I also liked that she was available whenever someone needed her! I would take any class that she was teaching! Thank you for making a very difficult semester a success (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

My students’ evaluations demonstrate that my students learn in ways and at levels that they personally did not think was possible for them. I strongly believe that my teaching methods allow students to acquire the competence necessary to be successful learners and teachers. They develop a love of learning, and eventually become lifelong learners. The classroom is only the beginning for students but, I am determined to ensure that it sets the foundation for their success.
“This class was well-structured and definitely a valuable tool to have as a future educator (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Being passionate about what I do. Enthusiasm is important in a required course like Research Methods because students assume that these courses will be uninteresting and monotonous. For my Research Methods class, I require my students to create an original study design on any topic that interests them. They develop their proposals throughout the semester, improving their drafts as we learn about the different methods used to study educational trends . This procedure allows students to associate basic concepts discussed in class to the subject they have chosen and helps them to think critically with respect to how the process influences the understanding of research methods. Many of my students at WM commented positively on this procedure, and one commented:
“I felt like Dr. Kim had an amazing passion for teaching this course. The material in the class can sometimes come across as boring or dry, but Dr. Kim made it interesting. She made me want to like what she loved doing. I really enjoyed her power points. They made the material clearer and easier to understand (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Another commented:
“Dr. Kim truly wants to teach her students by her own example especially in her detailed and quick feedback about literature reviews and research proposals. She cares tremendously about her students as evidenced by her feedback, which some other professors are not. I was able to take a research class that could be immensely difficult and boring and make it enjoyable. She is a great addition to the education faculty (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Another commented:
, “Dr. Kim cares so much about her students. She really puts everything into teaching. She works so hard to make sure all her students understand the material and do well. She is very intelligent and obviously knows the subject matter very well and cares about education. I’m very disappointed that I won’t have Dr. Kim for another class! Her humor and enthusiasm was great to have in class and I’m sorry that the only class I was able to have with her was Research Methods (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Teachers cannot expect students to be interested in course material if they are unable to convey enthusiasm of the subject. I often get excited when discussing the latest research and sharing my professional and personal experiences as they relate to my own research. It gives me immense pleasure when my students ask thoughtful questions, indicating that they understand a concept and are applying it correctly. One of my goals as an educator is to inspire students. As an English novelist, W. A. Ward, stated “The mediocre teacher tells; the good teacher explains; the superior teacher demonstrates; and the great teacher inspires.” I believe that students are motivated and inspired by a teacher’s love of the subject. The same is true for a teacher who feels excitement, pride, and passion in their students’ learning. One of my students commented:
“Dr. Kim is great at articulating what she wants out of you. If you just actively listen during class you will learn more than you think you can. For a four hour class her intensity may have been a bit too much, but you can really tell she loves what she does. Thank you Dr. Kim for teaching us everything in such a wonderful manner. Your excitement and knowledge were both an inspiration and a challenge. I hope you can get some rest and don’t have to spend so much time on this course again. It’s time you do some of your own work (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Another student commented:
“Willingness to share personal experiences and great knowledge base of research on lifespan topics. She is great and I greatly admire her passion for her research and teaching (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

Guiding students through the scientific research process is one of my favorite challenges. Independent research encourages students to discover their own capabilities and take control of their own learning. I make every effort to inspire my students as I was inspired by the extraordinary teachers and mentors that have made a tremendous impact on my life. . I believe that I am a product of quality teaching and expert mentoring, and I hope to continue this by challenging students to make the most of their learning experiences. I believe that hands-on experience is the best learning tool available. Once students choose their research topic, we begin working on each student’s research proposal together in class. I emphasize analytical reading, quality writing, class participation, and logical and critical thinking to prepare students for their future careers. One of my students commented:
“Dr. Kim’s teaching style and her ability to create a challenging and interesting class atmosphere were essential to my understanding of research methods. Her expectation was very high but not impossibly high. As an avid researcher, she remarkably incorporated her work on creativity into the class material and continuously provided us with examples from her own research. The entire semester was a challenging experience of creating a research proposal guided by an excellent researcher and wonderful teacher. She was always enthusiastic to teach, learn, and interact with her students in a caring and loving manner (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Using techonology. I make every effort to be an innovative teacher and the use of appropriate technology significantly enhances instruction both inside and outside the classroom. I employ appropriate technologies in my classes to promote students learning and to prepare them for the future use of technology. I provide web-based support with the Blackboard course management system to answer students questions and post announcements, assignments, extra readings, examples of previous students’ proposals, and study guides. I also use it for posting and allowing students to take weekly essay quizzes, midterm and final exams; as well as to submit all of their assignments. In addition, I frequently use relevant internet sites to expand the content of the course. Finally, I regularly use PowerPoint presentations to facilitate lectures and make the content available via the internet and as handouts prior to the lecture. One of my students commented:
“This was the most I have ever learned in a research class. Dr. Kim’s feedback was incredibly through and truly helped me grow as an academic. Her humor in class and interesting/detailed power point slides made the material more interesting and engaged me more in class (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09)”.

To be an exceptional teacher I have made it a priority to ensure that my teaching methods remain up to date and forward-looking. I consistently take courses and immerse myself in latest knowledge and information. My teaching abilities are also enhanced by my research in that my research provides me with up-to-date ideas for use in my teaching. My teaching is also related to my service activities in that I present information to community forums that derive from what I teach in class.

Overcoming the language barrier. I realize that keeping up with students’ ways of thinking and popular culture is critical to maintaining a good rapport with students. However, teaching in a country with a language that is not my first language has been challenging at times. Even so, most students understand me and if they complain about my accent, I endeavor to maintain a positive attitude. Formerly, I was apologetic for not using the same words that students use and not sharing the same background – primarily because my Asian culture taught me to that I was expected to be humble. However, I have learned that being apologetic can be interpreted as a lack of confidence. Since experiencing this revelation I have attempted to show my confidence through positive reinforcement from students.
I ask my students to help me with my English. I acknowledge the possible language problem on the first day of each semester. I want students to correct me if my pronunciation is not correct. I try to create a friendly atmosphere by acknowledging to my students that my native language is not English. I urge students to ask me right away if I say something that they do not understand. I am not intimidated by my mistakes or by students’ queries. I try to laugh with my students, and most of them seem to appreciate it, as one commented:
The language barrier was difficult at times, but she never got upset or defensive when we asked for clarification: She was always eager to make sure we understood what she was trying to communicate. Thank you for a great class! (WM Life Span Class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”
Another commented:
“Her best qualities are she understands the subject material and cares for her students. I have never seen a professor try so hard to help her students better their work. I cannot think of a true weakness, because if some say her ability to speak English, I would disagree. She is very good with English and constantly asks us if we understand (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

The quality of my teaching is not a function of whether I am a native speaker or a non-native speaker. I believe the language I speak and the fact that I am teaching at WM will make a difference in the students' perception of the world as a small community. Students who have been more exposed to different languages, cultures, and geographies are better able to understand my teaching; furthermore, it will enhance their ability to teach others. I build on my strengths and my unique contribution as an international professor. I am able to provide a comparative context in my teaching that is not available in courses taught by American professors. One of my students at EMU commented in a thank-you note after a semester:
“Not only do you challenge us to provide work that is meaningful and inspiring, you help remind us that there is more than what we see or experience in our little American communities. Don’t ever stop!”

A WM student commented:
“Dr. Kim made my first class at William and Mary a very enjoyable experience. Not only did I take a research class, I learned a tremendous amount about the Korean culture, which for someone that grew up in a very homogeneous area, was something I was missing! I have never had a professor that was so adamant about seeing that her students succeed! (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”
Another student commented::
“Dr. Kim is very caring and wants her students to succeed. Not only did I learn about research, I enjoyed hearing stories about her culture and differences between Korea and the US. I learned more in this class than I did in multicultural! Have Dr. Kim be a speaker in multicultural! (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

I am always well-prepared for class and present the material with confidence. I believe that what I do and what I plan to do for students is especially important. I try to increase interaction with my students outside of class to help students who might be having a hard time. My students will overlook some of the language difficulties I have if I exhibit my interest and care in teaching. One of my students commented:

“Dr. Kim did an excellent job in a course that is a bit more difficult to teach than others because it doesn’t lend itself to a discussion style. She was able to mix up the material and keep us interested in it, and writing the paper as we were learning helped with the learning. While the class was a bunch of work, it really was good to have to do so much work, and again this really helped to drive home the material. Dr. Kim’s accent was rarely a problem, and she has done a great job teaching this class (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Another student commented:
“[The] Teacher did very well in overcoming language and cultural barriers (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring ’09).”

I endeavor to have my students to view me as a human being and not a strange-looking, odd-sounding person from a foreign country. This eventually gives way to communication and a sense of trust between my student and me. One of my students commented:

“Dr. Kim made this class tolerable and understandable. She also managed to convey its importance and why we need to understand and apply what we learned in class. I always understood the class expectations and appreciated the feedback we received on ALL of our work! Dr. Kim was an excellent role model, demonstrating how to be a wonderful teacher, how to be personable and share her life experiences without compromising the high expectations set for the class (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Overcoming cultural barriers. Teaching in a different country has been challenging because of my cultural differences--more so than the language difference. I teach in a different country and in a different culture than my homeland. Classes in the US are completely different from classes in Korea. I can relate to Asian students and the nervousness and discomfort they feel in American classrooms, where they are expected to engage in discussion and challenge other’s opinions. It is a completely foreign idea to Asians that dissent can, at times, be highly valued. I have experienced that my cultural behaviors and beliefs are often at odds with students cultural backgrounds. Most of my students are sensitive to my cultural identity. However, there have been cultural clashes and potentially even racism in my interactions with students. One of my students commented:
“Unfortunately, I also think that Dr. Kim was mistreated by my peers throughout the semester, partially if not fully because of her minority status. I have never seen my peers act so disrespectfully to a professor. Dr. Kim presents more statistics and research than any other professor I have had. My peers have never once challenged the white male professors in my program as much as they challenge Dr. Kim on things that are results of research, not her own opinion. For future counselors, who must learn how to show respect and empathize with minority clients, they seemed blind to their own prejudice in this class. I think Dr. Kim’s presence helps students to experience a minority professor, and yet I worry that the treatment she received from students is an unfair cross to bear. I know she loves her job, and her students. I worry that William and Mary will lose this valuable member of their faculty because of the closed-mindedness of students (WM Life Span class course evaluation, Spring’ 09).”
Another student commented:
“In addition to Dr. Kim being an excellent researchers and wonderful teacher, she was also an empowering example of perseverance and success for both female and minority students in spite of numerous obstacles in her life. The College of William and Mary should hire minority faculty like Dr. Kim (WM Research Methods class course evaluation, Summer ’09).”

Different socio-cultural environments result in different behaviors from culture to culture. However, I do not believe that cultural differences lead to school failure. It is the misunderstanding or misuse of these differences that create the possibility of a situation that leads to discriminatory treatment. To teach culturally different students, I am as fully aware as possible of the language, customs, beliefs, and values of the students’ culture to avoid classroom misunderstandings. Cultural differences increase the likelihood of a misunderstanding. When people speak different languages, the danger of faulty translations is obvious. For instance, the term “idiot” can be a cute term if it is translated into Korean, but I have realized that “idiot” is not a cute term in the manner in which it is used in the U.S. Successful conversations require background knowledge and understanding cultural values. I have learned that if differences are not understood, a misunderstanding is inevitable. Culture affects communication by influencing people’s assumptions. Different cultures have very different worldviews. Given an individual’s tendency to hear what they expect to hear, it is easy for people from different cultures to misunderstand one another. Therefore, as I learn more about my students’ culture, my understanding of them as individuals has become stronger with the passing of each semester.
Closing. I use feedback from my students as my measure for the effectiveness and acceptance of new teaching methods and learning tools. Teaching and learning is an ever-evolving process. I constantly tweak and tinker with my course content, presentation style and mode of discussion, I always welcome new ideas and innovations that help make concepts more understandable to students. I recognize the importance of refining my skills through reading pedagogical literature, soliciting frequent student evaluations, attending workshops, incorporating technology in my teaching, and consulting with my colleagues. My pursuit of excellence in teaching was recognized with a university-wide award for excellence in teaching and advising at EMU. I was awarded the 2008 Outstanding Faculty Award from EMU, selected as a 2007 and a 2008 Exemplary Mentor, and nominated for the 2007 Classroom Instruction Award. However, my teaching effectiveness also primarily evidenced by my students’ ratings of my courses and comments on their course evaluation forms which are available upon request.
Even though, I am still in the early stages of my teaching career, I believe I possess the necessary qualities to become a great teacher. I look forward to further developing my teaching skills.