my teaching roots might be considered unconventional by some, I feel that by beginning my teaching career as a martial arts
instructor I was given an unfair advantage over my peers. I began studying martial arts at the tender age of 4 and it was
not until 10 years later that I began instructing students. When I first started teaching, I had the opportunity to teach
children in both group and private settings, working with individuals, pairs, and groups of up to 30 students. As my teaching
experience progressed, I began to teach adult classes, often teaching individuals twice my age. It was through this change
that I began to understand the need for a dynamic approach to instruction. It was while teaching an adult class that a public
school teacher I was instructing commented on my patience and adaptability in teaching. As a young man of 16 years, this comment
not only planted the seed for my current path in life, but also taught me an important lesson about respect. I realized that
my age was of little importance as long as I showed respect for my students, and they respected my knowledge and ability to
The two years that followed before I left to attend college
acted as a catalyst for developing my teaching skills. I began to focus on breaking down the problems my students were having
with a certain movement, strike, or stance and then building their understanding back up with practice, practical application,
and comprehensive explanation of the motivations behind something. At this time I also found myself teaching group seminars
focusing on children and womens self-defense. Because the students in these seminars were often inexperienced martial artists,
the common parallels present in all teaching began to unfold for me. Through the hesitations and doubts of new students, I
quickly learned that regardless of experience, people were more compelled to learn something if they not only felt comfortable
learning it, but also felt that it would be something useful to them.
things ended, as all things tend to do, and I departed for the University of Texas in Austin in 2001 to develop myself as
both a learner and a person. After taking classes in a variety of contexts that interest me (such as computer science, psychology,
speech sciences, communications, and philosophy) I found my way back on track on the path to becoming a teacher. As I started
working with young students again, I felt that familiar warm feeling inside me while interacting with someone and guiding
them to understanding something. Much to my surprise, I still felt patient and comfortable working with struggling students
regardless of my 3-year gap in teaching. While some might consider it poor practice, I find myself unable to resist taking
an informal stance with my students, joking freely and asking them questions about their lives, interests, or concerns.
While the context of my teaching has vastly changed from punches to periods, the
essential core experience of "teaching" is still a prevalent force in my life. In the future I hope to place myself in as
many different teaching situations as possible, always developing myself and my interactions with my students and co-workers.
I fully understand and appreciate the fact that every learner is different, every day offers a teaching twist, and that I
will always need to be dynamic in order to adapt to such inevitable challenges in the world.