Faculty Spotlight - Christopher Martinez
“If I can do this, anyone can.” As a graduate of HCC (I show my students my AA degree), I tell them that as a solid C student I still excelled at HCC. So, if I can do this, anyone can. They just need to be tenacious.
I love teaching World Religions. The course touches on the personal lives of every student in the class, whether we cover their religion or religious background or upbringing. The students internalize the knowledge, recognizing it as familiar.
An advocate would best describe my philosophy of higher education. This advocate, interacting with the local community, guides students in their best interest. Higher education is the link between the aspiration of students and the community’s needs. The responsibility of this advocate is to anticipate the future needs of the community and general society and to tailor its educational offerings accordingly. This serves best both students and the community.
The latter can be seen in the fields of distance education and multi-media training, no longer a future trend. Multi-media skills are needed in the careers of the present. HCC, as the student advocate, should offer this training.
But multi-media training should not be just the goal, but also the delivery system. In the 21st century, students need access to more than just traditional, face-to-face instruction. Technology is the norm in society, and it should be that in higher education. Distance learning and multi-media training has been shown to exceed face-to-face instruction in certain aspects. This is why I have been involved in the e-textbook pilot at HCC.
I’ve had two. One student’s last name was Singh. I asked her if she was a Sikh. She asked me how I knew. I told her Singhs have the title “Singh” in their name and they are Sikhs. She said she went home and her parents confirmed this, something she had never been told.
Another student showed up for class wearing two rosaries around his neck. I asked to borrow one and then began reciting the prayers assigned to each bead. His eyes grew wide and said he did not know that was what a rosary was for.
This reflects my teaching approach: a personal encounter with students so they internalize the knowledge in class and use it in cognitive reasoning.
I believe in “edutainment.” This is a combination of education and entertainment. Students, particularly the younger ones, consume large and fast quantities of entertainment through various electronic means. In the classroom, I use humor to hook the students (get their attention) and then teach an interesting topic, interspersed with videos, class projects and more humor. Humor makes me, as an instructor, more approachable, when a student is encountering difficulty inside or outside the classroom.
Blackboard is my primary techno tool. Everything is in the course template there: syllabus, PowerPoint and other documents, reviews for tests. This is the primary sources for my instructional content, and both instructor and student draws from it, so everyone is on the same page.
It would be presumptuous to offer advice to any faculty member, including new ones, with one exception: encouragement. Remember, you usually always know more than the students. Love your teaching, enjoy your interaction with the students, and be passionate about the subject matter.