Teaching Philosophy

Teaching has changed my life. I am indebted to so many wonderful educators who inspired me and motivated me, regardless of the subject that was being taught. The teachers I am most grateful for, desired for me to not only to succeed in their classroom, but also genuinely desired for me to succeed in life. These teachers took the time to show me that they cared and were patient. There were times as student I personally struggled, but these teachers encouraged me to persevere. Not only have they infused me with great knowledge, but they have cultivated within me a deep desire for lifelong learning. Their teaching has helped me to recognize my own potential and ways in which I can contribute to better the world.

Teaching can change a student’s life. An effective teacher understands that each of their students has potential, and they seek to find ways to help their students recognize their capabilities and become better students and people. There is something very special about seeing students learn. This is something I constantly experience as a professor at Northern Illinois University. To see students become excited about the content of a course and learn how they can apply what they are learning to life, has been very rewarding for me. As a teacher I want to ignite or reignite my students passion to learn. One of the ways that I enable my students to develop and grow is that I have high expectations for them. I make this very clear as a professor. The work I often ask them to do is very challenging. I have found that when I invest time inside and outside of the classroom building a relationship with students, they have a strong tendency to meet and often exceed my expectations.

I love being in the classroom. Being with the students energizes me and strengthens my desire to teach and to research. An effective teacher will allow their research and life experiences to inform how they teach, and what they should teach. I believe that it is fundamental to not only be familiar with the literature, but engaged in it. Some of my favorite experiences as a teacher have been times I have been able to share what I have been learning from my research, and my clinical work work as a marriage and family therapist. I allow my students to get to know me. I believe it is helpful that they are aware of some of the adversities I have experienced and overcome. I want students to feel like I am relatable so that they feel comfortable asking me questions and requesting assistance.

Teaching can be challenging. Perhaps that is one of the reasons I find it so worthwhile. To be an effective teacher you must constantly be learning and growing personally. This requires dedication to reading and understanding the most recent literature. It requires being willing to take feedback from students and adjust when necessary. An effective teacher knows that they personally have room for growth and improvement. Not only do they have high expectations for their students, but they have high expectations of themselves as well. I recognize that this is a process and I strongly desire to continue growing and learning.

Effective teaching encourages accountability and responsibility.  I believe that there are a set of academic standards that must be maintained.  An effective teacher expects ethical behavior from students and seeks to uphold the values of the institution in which they teach.  In order for undergraduate and graduate education to be meaningful academic integrity must be maintained.  I have the ability and confidence to hold students accountable for their own work.  Being fair to all of my students is a priority that I take very seriously.

I teach about families and relationships. I believe that I am extremely lucky to have the opportunity to teach such an exciting and a unique subject. I believe that family life has a significant impact on societal functioning. I encourage my students to seek to find ways to become their best selves and improve their own relationships and family functioning.  I also teach about human development, the helping relationship, and how families respond during health and illness issues. I greatly enjoy teaching these subjects to both undergraduate and graduate students. I have taught many courses on campus and I have also taught online.

In summary, I thoroughly enjoy teaching and I am very passionate about it. I believe that I have ability to bring excitement into the classroom. I want students to feel what I feel about learning.  I know that a person’s life can be enriched through knowledge, and that knowledge can be applied to understand more about life and how to respond to adversity and challenges. A university education can provide a solid foundation for a fulfilling life and unlock doors to many opportunities in the future.

-Dr. Sibley