Robert Bryce Ballew has been teaching for 20 years at all levels and 15 of those years in TISD. Mr. Ballew has a BFA from Louisiana Tech University and an MFA from Lamar University. He has worked professionally in Radio, TV and Film as well as professional Theatre companies.
My Teaching Philosophy
In my opinion, the real job of a teacher is to inspire. I am fully aware that although I may wish it to be so, not every one of my students will develop the same passion I do for theatre. However, I believe that any teacher has the power to inspire students to reach their full potential, pursue their particular passions and interests and to change their world. The activities a teacher engages students in can instill confidence in a student, making them feel capable. After promoting such confidence, students will be more willing to use those skills as a student, and most importantly as a human being. Throughout my life, my teachers have inspired and shaped me into the person that I am today. Especially as a Fine Arts teacher, it is my job to use the classroom to broaden horizons, promote awareness and connect with life.
I believe that a teacher ought to be open minded to new ideas and flexible in their teaching styles and lesson planning, as they expect this from their students. Learning from students is essential to a successful classroom. An effective teacher must be able to adapt their teaching style to suit every different class’s personality. If one particular style is not working, one should change it to make it effectual without losing site of what the goal of the lesson should be and with consideration for the community and school’s ideals. Also, it is important for a teacher to realize that every student will not share the same opinions or insights as a teacher. Despite differences in opinion, a teacher must encourage and accept what students have to say as long as it is not offensive to others in the class. In a Theatre Arts classroom, I feel that different interpretations of the lessons are extremely valuable. However, a student must be able to support an opinion with direct evidence from the skills being examined. All sides of an argument must be presented even if a teacher does not agree with all sides. A student should not be able to decipher a teacher’s stance on an issue, even if the teacher is open to other opinions. Knowing a teacher's personal opinion may inhibit those students who disagree from expressing their thoughts in fear of being disliked or marked down.
I strongly believe in creativity in the classroom pertaining to both the teacher and students. A student should be able to express their understanding in a multitude of ways. Although guidelines are necessary, some freedom in assignments is important. Each student has his or her own talents and strengths which should be allowed to shine, while at the same time their weaknesses should be addressed and improved upon. Classrooms should be colorful and loud, both in appearance and in sound. Students should be engaged in lively discussion and given opportunities to express themselves in many different ways. No learning style shall be favored. In addition, a teacher should be able to present material and ideas in a variety of ways. Creative approaches meant to assist students in learning can make or break a class and the amount of knowledge taken from it. Specifically in an Theatre classroom, I feel it is important to have students engage with other mediums of art and culture than just the style I teach. I feel music, art, literature, etc are important to education and students should be exposed to these elements as well.
I believe that a teacher should be aware and sensitive to every student’s differences including culture, race, ethnicity, gender, family situations, sexuality, handicaps, learning styles and learning disorders. It is important not to treat all students as if they are the same because they are not the same. In order for every student to learn and develop in a classroom, the teacher must recognize, accept and celebrate their differences.
Last but not least I firmly believe in making mistakes and learning from them. The learning process never stops, even for teacher. Lessons will flop but this does not signify failure. One should analyze why it failed, learn from the experience so that it will be better next time. It is imperative that a teacher is always reflective in their teaching. Every new experience can enrich a teacher's knowledge and ideas. Students with different experiences can serve as teachers, bringing new ideas and life to a teacher. With every classroom, I will change my mind on what I believe and what I “know”. My teaching philosophy will continually evolve until the day I retire. The one thing I do know is that if my work as an educator will touch at least one child, then I will view my job as a success.