The evolution: While pursuing my MS degree, I had several opportunities to interact with faculty members and observe their lifestyles. My thoughts on teaching or an educator were not well formed at that time. However, I certainly found teaching as a profession to be very interesting. I took the teaching assistantship opportunities during my grad school years to explore my potential as a teacher and was enjoying it. By the 3rd year of my PhD degree, I had decided to pursue a career as a university professor. Fast forward to 2022, and I have engaged in classroom instruction for over two decades and have taught a variety of courses in math, programming, and engineering. The audience has largely been undergraduate students although I have also taught some graduate courses. In retracing my journey as an educator, I can identify at least three distinct phases of evolution. In the early years (2000 to 2008) I would classify myself closer to a ‘novice but enthusiastic sage-on-stage’ teacher. My impression of a model educator was (and continues to be) a teacher who is well prepared, has excellent communication skills, is adroit in classroom management, and is empathetic. These were the guidelines I followed (and continue to follow) with a belief that these are the traits of a good educator. In the first major evolution, post-2008, I started adopting a lot more technology in my classroom and courses. The use of tablets, web pages, social media platforms etc. helped me significantly boost my teaching efficiency, rapidly diffuse information, and offer quality assistance to every student in a timely manner. The second major evolution happened somewhere around 2014, after I joined McMaster’s W Booth School. In this phase, I started engaging in rigorous pedagogical research and activities investigating effective pedagogies, curriculum design, and assessment protocols for a variety of subjects.
The present: Today, I still use the initial guiding principles as an educator. However, going well beyond the textbook, I strive to impart the following key competencies to my students: (i) In addition to a sound understanding of the discipline they must have an ability to adapt and apply their minds to solve complex problems of the future. (ii) They must be able to collaborate and work with people from diverse backgrounds, engaging in the art of discovery and innovation. (iii) In developing solutions to advance society, they must be empathetic to the societal needs, practise professional ethics, and develop sustainable and socially responsible solutions. I do this by applying a variety of audience-appropriate pedagogical practices to deliver a tactfully-curated curriculum to help students experience the essence of the subject.
The future: I firmly believe that a well-informed and well-developed educated mind will result in an enlightened citizenry, ultimately advancing our society. For this, in my leadership role, I make efforts to ensure that quality education is accessible to as many aspirants as possible. To this end, with the assistance of my colleagues, we have dissolved geographic barriers by moving the Software program to a fully virtual program. I leverage technology to enable students to learn at the time and place of their choice. The curriculum and content are delivered using modern pedagogies to maximize student learning while minimizing student wellness issues. To further advance this flexibility and accessibility, I believe that program competencies should be offered through a set of stackable microcredentials. In summary, I would like to continue my efforts to provide a transformational education experience by offering top quality curriculum with a high degree of flexibility for improved accessibility, all the while balancing rigorous training for competencies with student wellness.