The Alan J. Perlis SCS Student Teaching Award
School of Computer Science, Carnegie Mellon University
Pittsburgh PA 15213-3891
(412)268-8525 . (412)268-5576 (fax)


Wolfgang Richter
2012 Graduate Student Teaching Award

Thank you to the F11 15-441 class for such a great semester, being great students, and being understanding as we remade their projects. Other thanks goes to both Srini Seshan and Roger Dannenberg for letting me take the lead on designing projects, and the other two TA's working with me Athula Balachandran and Charles Rang.

What follows below is a brief statement of my teaching philosophy.

A great teacher is indistinguishable from a great leader: people like Mahatma Gandhi – Father of the Indian nation and teacher of philosophy, Richard Feynman – a vocal public figure and legendary teacher of physics, and Bruce Lee – an iconic actor and teacher of martial arts. This comes as no surprise, because teaching is not something that a teacher does, it is something that his students allow him to do. Both teachers and leaders serve those who trust them. To be a great teacher, or a great leader, you must first earn respect.

The first step, for me, is to never create problems, assignments, or projects that I can not complete. To do so would be dishonest to my students. How can they trust and respect me if they know I can not complete the work? However, the standard to which I evaluate my students remains unwaveringly high. I believe that my students can accomplish their work with excellence and convey this to them throughout my tenure as their teacher. To further earn respect and trust, I teach by example–I lead by example. I create demonstrations for students, and code examples to aid their understanding in response to queries, or my own anticipation of their confusion. I believe that dedicated teachers inspire students–the same way that dedicated leaders inspire their followers–which pushes them to succeed. If students see that I am willing to meet with them at odd times, and respond to their queries as soon as possible, they rise to the task at hand and become more dedicated themselves.

It is with this background that I derive the four pillars upon which my teaching philosophy rests: (1) ensure I am capable of completing work I assign, (2) maintain the highest standards for my students and by extension myself, (3) teach by example, and (4) dedicate myself to teaching inside and outside the classroom.

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