When most people hear the big ‘L’ word [learn, not the other one], they cringe thinking about over-packed classrooms filled with students tuning out the monotonous drone of irrelevant facts and figures; but design is different; the educational journey relies heavily on experience—experience with the material presented, and experience within the classroom environment. As an instructor, I feel it is my responsibility to ensure that these two experiences meld to create a lasting impression of the course materials and the class itself.

I believe that assignments, especially within design, need to be critiqued, both by the instructor and the students in the class. By discussing works, especially student-created, allows people to see what is expected from the course, educationally, and professionally. What better way for students to become familiar with their abilities than to just simply discuss them?!

As a student, I remember having encountered classes with headstrong, ego-driven individuals who are hell-bent on their monotonous presentations of material, and also those who have struggled in trying to fully convince the student about the importance of why they are there to begin with. The instructors that stood out the most to me were the ones who cracked jokes, told stories; the ones who engaged me as a person and not just another warm body filling a seat.

I strive to mimic this style; I see the way to teach is by creating a classroom environment that becomes engaging, creating a discussion which excites, drives, and relates to the student. By relating to the student, and by involving them within the discussion and critiques, creates a relationship that entices them to take in what you have to say as credible. This practice also shows the student that this translates into the real world with clients as well.

I see my job as an educator as being a guide; to demonstrate the methods needed to ensure a quality design, and have those methods stick once outside of the educational environment. Let’s face it—our job as designers is to be well versed. We are responsible for everything that leads from the client’s head to the finalized format. I approach this principle the same as a teacher and designer, and I make sure students whole-heartedly understand that relationship because their job (and mine) depends on it!