The following is a rewritten version of my philosophy:
Statement of the Educational Philosophy of John T. Taylor 2006
Due to circumstances beyond my control, I became a high school dropout, or rather a high school drop-up. The year was 1958 and the city was Little Rock, Arkansas.
During 1957-58, I was at Little Rock Central High School. I was in my junior year amidst the crisis between the State of Arkansas and the Federal government. At age 17, the State deprived me of my senior year experience. I was one of nearly 4,000 students put on the street that year when, in order to avoid integration, the State and the City of Little Rock declared high school education in Little Rock illegal through a special election.
After six months of no school, I was one of 64 of the students on LRCHS's 535 seniors admitted to the local university without a high school diploma. I went from an honor student in high school to a struggling B/C college freshman, attempting to survive in a university without the proper preparation. I was inducted to Phi Theta Kappa during the Fall of 1959 thanks to my excellent start in the Spring of 1959. But then I met Calculus and Physics which ultimately resulted in my changing majors from engineering to chemistry. I had had high school chemistry and made A's in college chemistry, but physics and calculus without the senior year was a struggle. Consequently, I passed the courses with B's and C's but I did not have the conceptual understanding to continue in engineering school. I am grateful for the opportunity that was given me by the university, but my undergraduate experience could have been a lot easier if the community college systems of today were available then to help my transformation from 11th grade to college.
Since then I have devoted my life to education, especially community college education where under-prepared adults come for a second chance to attempt post secondary education in a caring environment. I believe in the Open Door. I believe in designing instruction and experiences to take students from where they are at and bring them up to college level preparation, able to matriculate through two solid years of a college parallel or vocational education program. I could have used a preparatory course in physics for those without high school physics in 1959-60. This is why I specialize in teaching preparatory chemistry to those who bypassed high school chemistry, which used to be required for college bound graduates.
Advanced classes like organic and analytical chemistry, or
allied health chemistry are easier to teach because the students have been "weeded out". The former have two semesters of general chemistry to filter unsuccessful students, while allied health programs are very competitive with a selection process to weed out the weaker students. I worry about those "weeded out" students. These students are at the center of my mission. They are the 29 year old adult manual labor worker or the 30 something house mother whose children are now in school who comes to you and want a second chance to now achieve an education where as they wasted their first opportunity as teenagers in secondary schools. These students present the real challenge to teach. They probably at first do not possess the skills to succeed, but they have the characteristic most necessary to get started. They are motivated just by coming in our door. They want to learn. Preparatory chemistry (CHM 1025 at HCC) is a course which requires a more skilled instructor, who can provide the motivation and stimulation to succeed one step at a time. The instructor's job is not only to dispense the required content, but to establish the confidence in the adult learner that they can succeed, even with a chemistry course. It is the community college faculty member's job to teach them to become 'Master Students'. After one semester the student must be ready for General College Chemistry (CHM 1045 at HCC). Active learning and online experiences help bridge the gap to entry level college chemistry. Active learning strategies from cooperative learning to online drill and practice are necessary.
Having immersed myself in the College Survival programs as well as my recent graduate program at the University of South Florida during the 1990s has brought a new dimension to my understanding of the dynamics of today's students. I believe that all faculty should go through College Survival training and periodic seminars so that all faculty, not just the college prep magicians, should incorporate one/two minute 'sound bytes' in their activities in class to teach students to be successful "Master" students.
One of the first tasks of a faculty member is being the
Motivator before being the Expert. Then the third step in the cycle of learning
to be the Coach, while finally four stage is being the Evaluator. I have a unique method of Pre/Post testing and using the quiz/exam as a feedback loop for the students to succeed. I use the Evaluator phase to enhance Coaching. All my exams are broken apart in seven to ten subsections. I pretest some of these subsections daily in class the first five minutes. The papers are scored and returned at the conclusion of the class. If the student does well they attach that section to the exam and skip that section of the exam on exam day. On some of the more difficult problems encountered in chemistry, I sometimes allow a makeup of the problem type as a post test to improve the exam grade without completing an entire retest. The last section of every exam is 10 to 15 multiple choice questions written in the format of the final exam. The multiple choice are never retested.
constantly trying to figure a way to make difficult concepts easier for
the student through active learning experiences. I have succeeded with online electron configuration software for students to visualize "where the electrons are and where the electrons are NOT". I utilize a two class paper and pencil exercise to lead students to a discovery algorithm to visualize the polyatomic ions on the periodic chart without memorizing their formulas and charges. But Drill and Practice also has its place with a starter randomized element symbol practice on the internet with actual photos of the elements. Links to these sites may be found on the prep chemistry home page.
My last major paper, which is not formally published, may be found online at:
has a deeper display of my educational philosophy and concentrates on how to use technology to improve chemistry instruction.
The student is at the center of everything I do. I have
strived for most of my life to help students succeed. I hate faculty who teach
and leave, who do not care about their students. Every student who does not succeed I take personally. I take pride in the fact that I have participated in every graduation the college has ever had, number 35 in May 2004. I have a hard time understanding my peer faculty who do not get enthusiastic about finally seeing their students graduate and move on to their higher education pursuits. Below are my formal education goals of which my final goal is to graduate with my students by being one of them receiving an A.S. degree in computer science.