Unfortunately, it seems to me that nowadays the view of teaching being a neccessary evil is common and actually spreading in the scientific community. For me that has never been the case. I love my reasearch but I also love teaching and I don't see it as a neccessary evil but as a chance to help young students on their way. Looking at these students and seeing where the road takes them always makes me proud to have been a part of that journey.
I think it is interesting how teachers influence our lifes so strongly and lasting. Many years later we still tell the tales of our bad teachers and how they didn't do their jobs right. On the other hand you always remember the ones that were there for you and helped you on your way. I have had many teachers in my life already and continue to have them - many bad, some good. The good ones are with me wherever I go and I remember them fondly.
I strive to be one of those good teachers or mentors for my students which is why I have taken numerous courses for University teaching at the University Duisburg-Essen, which has a great program in didactic and creative teaching techniques. These courses helped me not only in developing new teaching methods, but also in realizing who I am as a teacher and what my strengths and flaws are. I try to continue to work on my teaching constantly, learning new techniques and ways to improve it. I hope one day one of my students looks back and remembers me fondly because I was able to make a difference.
Three things are most important to me in my teaching. As obvious as it sounds I believe students are grown competent adults and should be treated that way. Unfortunately, that isn't always the case, even in Germany where we focus a great deal on independence in our children. I therefore put great emphasis on not just teaching facts but teaching my students how to think and work out problems on their own. However, every person has a different way of learning and I consider it my job to give the students the tools they need to learn and be motivated. "Give a man a fish and he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime". If I do it myself and reach a conclusion on my own I am much more likely to remember it and I can use it to solve other problems as well. That is why I try to promote discussions and let my students figure out their own questions and answers whenever possible. Of course that usually means a lot more work because some practicals, for example, turn out completely different from what I expected, but it also means that the students enjoy it more and sometimes I even get new input from them because they have a completely different way of looking at a problem. By the way, learning to organize your timetable for your projects and not getting carried away is an important skill and usually something my students learn along the way.
Another important aspect is to keep the leitmotif clear to everyone. This is also something that should be obvious, but so often gets lost along the way at the university. This leads to interesting lectures with lots of pictures and videos but very little actual insight into a topic. I try to do my best to communicate to the students why they are learning what they are learning and how it might be important later on (if that is possible). Hopefully they enjoy the lectures because they enjoy the subject in any case, but there is usually a reason why they hear something, for example studies on foxes and bunnies and how they interact. I hope my students not only gain new knowledge and skills during my classes but also realize why they learned about competitive Lotka–Volterra equations and how they can use those during their own research.
The last main point that is important to me is keeping it interesting. My best teachers were always the ones that got me excited about the subject matter. (Almost) anything can be exciting - you only have to find the right way to teach it. Especially in biology it is so easy to get excited about the mysterious and wonderful world around us and you can't help but marvel at it. That makes it even more terrifying to me that, looking back, I had so many boooring lectures. It is important to me that I constantly work on trying to avoid boredom in my lectures. There are many new and old didactic ways of achieving just that. Our society is constantly changing and we must and can adapt. Why shouldn't we and, in that, make our teaching so much more exciting. Grace Hopper has said it and I definitely agree: “The most dangerous phrase in the language is, We’ve always done it this way.”
|01/2013 - 01/2015||Supervision of the “human odor” experiment in the module chemical ecology (Master, three-week course WS)|
|05/2012 - 05/2015||Lecture and course supervision “pollinator diversity“ as part of the biodiversity module (Bachelor, two-day course SS)|
|05/2014 – 08/2014||Coordination of the bird and zoological excursions (Teaching, seven days SS)|
|05/2014 – 08/2014||Coordination of the basic ecological practical including exam coordination and teaching of the lecture and practical on disease spreading (Bachelor, once a week SS)|
|05/2014 – 08/2014||Coordination of the systematic practical including giving the exam, lectures on bird song and animal collection (Bachelor, once a week SS)|
|06/2014 - 06/2014||Supervision of the „buzz pollination” experiment in the module EcoHealth (Master, three-week course SS)|
|03/2013 - 07/2013||Supervision of two bachelor theses on vibrational communication in mason bees|
|10/2009 - 04/2013||Assistant for the basic zoological practical (Bachelor, once a week WS)|
|03/2012 - 07/2012||Supervision of two bachelor theses on the influence of temperature on the mating of the red mason bee|
|05/2010 - 07/2012||Assistant for the systematic practical (Bachelor, once a week SS)|
|06/2012 - 06/2012||Supervision of the „buzz pollination” experiment in the module Animal-Plant-Interaction (Master, three-week course SS)|
|05/2012 - 05/2012||Supervision of the “bumblebee orientation” experiment as part of the biodiversity module (Bachelor, one-day course SS)|
|01/2012 - 01/2012||Supervision of the “ant nest mate recognition” experiment in the module Chemical Ecology (Master, three-week course WS)|
|06/209 - 06/2011||Supervision of the “pollination syndromes” experiment in the module Animal-Plant-Interaction (Master, three-week course SS)|
|05/2011 - 05/2011||Supervision of the ”ant pheromones” experiment as part of the biodiversity module (Bachelor, one-day course SS)|
|05/2011 - 05/2011||Lecture and course supervision “pollinator diversity“ as part of the biodiversity module (Bachelor, two-day course SS)|
|01/2011 - 01/2011||Supervision of the “sex pheromones in mason bees” experiment in the module Chemical Ecology (Master, three-week course WS)|
|04/2006 - 07/2006||Supervision of the LAI experiment in the basic ecological practical (SS)|
|04/2006 - 07/2006||Supervision of the PCR experiment in the plant physiology practical (pre-diploma, once a week SS)|