Teaching Philosophy - Simple and Creative

Some of the best teachers I have ever learned from had this amazing skill of explaining difficult material in simple terms. This does not mean they watered it down or stripped it of the complexities. They helped students realize they could and did understand. One of my teaching heros who exemplified this the best is P. R. Kumar, a former professor at the University of Illinois known for work in stochastic controls. He was once asked "What do you enjoy most about teaching?" This was his response:

"Trying to make things simple. Ultimately everything is, so my goal is always to simplify, to show what is deep in a simple way, to make students really understand at the bottom of their hearts what is going on in such a way that they feel confident about it. My goal is to leave students with the knowledge that the subject is easy, not hard. The goal is to leave students with a social understanding that they can use it all the time. I think too often we don’t do that. A lot of professors leave students with the feeling that the course is difficult, and the students are glad to have finished it and never want to see it again. My goal is the opposite. It’s to make them feel that the subject is simple, that they remember it their whole lives and that they use it with pleasure and confidence."

Creativity and discovery are also wonderful tools when it comes to learning. As a researcher, I enjoy contemplating innovative ways to solve problems. I believe that when students are provided with the right motivation and environment, they will learn beyond their initial expectations. It is my job as a teacher to foster an environment for self-teaching and creativity. Creativity, as I like to define it, is not just about having an idea but also about bringing that idea to life. To be creative, one must create. Being able to connect what students are learning in a lecture with its practical applications and challenges is an important step for students. It's also a lot of fun!

Courses

ECE 469 Power Electronics Laboratory
Teaching Assistant (Head TA)
Fall 2011, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Urbana, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Philip Krein

ENG 333 Creativity, Innovation, and Vision
Instructor
Spring 2011, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Urbana, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Bruce Litchfield

ECE 469 Power Electronics Laboratory
Teaching Assistant (Head TA)
Fall 2010, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Urbana, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Philip Krein

ECE 469 Power Electronics Laboratory
Teaching Assistant
Fall 2009, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Urbana, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Philip Krein

ECE 431 Electric Machinery
Teaching Assistant
Spring 2009, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; Urbana, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Philip Krein

ECE 110 Introduction to Electrical and Computer Engineering
Teaching Assistant
Fall 2006, Illinois Institute of Technology; Chicago, IL
Head Instructor: Prof. Donald Ucci

Awards

Teacher Scholar Certificate
University of Illinois Center for Teaching Excellence - Requirements
May 2011

Graduate Teacher Certificate
University of Illinois Center for Teaching Excellence - Requirements
April 2010

List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by Their Students
Spring 2009

Harold L. Olesen Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching by Graduate Students, Nomination
Spring 2009

Feedback

Universities often have students fill out surveys at the end of each semester to evaluate the overall teaching ability of a professor or TA. As a TA, I have found these surveys encouraging and enlightening. At Univeristy of Illinois, we also have the opportunity to collect informal early feedback a month or so after the semester starts. This gives the instructor a feel for how students are progressing in their learning and can enable him/her to adjust their teaching. For instance, the feedback I received while teaching power electronics in the fall of 2010 alerted me to the fact that I was not giving a sufficient overview at the beginnig of each lab section. This is important because sometimes the lecture may be a little behind the lab and the students are unfamiliar with the material that will be covered in the lab. Collecting feedback and discussing it with a Center for Teaching Excellence staff member is also one the requirements for the Graduate Teaching Certificate.

Pradeep Shenoy

Energy Systems Engineer

Texas Instruments
Dallas, TX

linux
Résumé (updated April 2015)