"Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution." ~ Albert Einstein
My TEACHING PHILOSOPHY is based on two fundamental principles that have proven highly successful in the classroom: a) to be genuinely in service of my students in ways that are detailed below, and b) to build trust with them by being a relatable communicator. The first course that I taught at The Los Angeles Film School (“LAFS”) was LIFE AS A FILMMAKER—an 8-week session meant to help graduating students to transition from film school into the entertainment industry. The first day of class, I encountered a group of solemn students, who were terrified while facing the prospect of entering “Hollywood.” Furthermore, many of the students had trepidation about how to handle questions challenging the worthiness of their LAFS education. During interviews for internships, many had confronted rude remarks from industry professionals, who were unaware of the school’s existence or who were quick to openly dismiss the validity of a LAFS education when compared to more prestigious university film school programs.
Assessing the circumstances of students by keenly listening to them is fundamental to my teaching approach. In this instance, I held class exercises that trained them to address their fears, develop listening techniques, and master communication skills. We tackled personal budgeting and finances, managing student loans, entertainment career options and paths, mind/project mapping, calendaring of projects, time management, and networking and pitching techniques.
Multifaceted approaches to interacting with students, retaining their attention, engaging them in discussions, measuring class pacing, and ensuring that they are processing information in a way that makes sense to them are all key to achieving high student learning outcomes. Hence, my teaching philosophy includes flexibility and adaptability. Also, as a passionate researcher in the fields of mastery of communication skills, as well as human psychology and behavior, I apply materials culled from these resources into class management, and I use them for continually gauging the dynamics of the room. For example, when observing that students have collective low energy (particularly during afternoon and evening classes), I purposely quicken my speech pattern infusing it with vitality and re-direct discussions to include more interaction. Plus, I remain highly attentive to the students’ responses while often intentionally repeating back what they say as a means of validating that they have been heard.
I expect that my teaching philosophy will be a lifelong work-in-progress not only in terms of techniques for managing the classroom as detailed above but because of the very nature of the entertainment industry, which is continuously in flux. The often fast-shifting trends require that coursework and materials in all subjects related to film, television, and digital/social media evolve and expand accordingly. Curriculums must be revised on an ongoing basis to incorporate variables in story development, financial and technical resources, business practices, distribution platforms, and marketing opportunities and strategies. As an instructor, it is imperative for me to remain both a) cutting-edge with the industry’s constant fluctuations and b) immersed in the historical trajectory of cinema to provide an essential context to discussions about the art of filmmaking. Today more than ever, film school students have broader diverse opportunities for launching successful careers. I aim to guide these fledgling artists toward bringing their filmmaking dreams to fruition meaningfully, by providing them with a well-rounded and interconnected creative, historical, practical, technical, and business education.