Teaching is both a blessing and a major responsibility. It is a blessing because I really enjoy witnessing my students grow and become professionals, and responsibility because I acknowledge that my pedagogical decisions may affect their learning environment and possibly their performance. I take my job very seriously, and after all my years of experience, I have understood that my role is to be a facilitator of knowledge, rather than a classroom environment that favours the lecturer’s expertise, I believe in constructing a horizontal, fun, respectful, but mostly safe learning environment. In my classes, students know they have their own voice, and that I acknowledge it. Also, they can expect me to challenge them to promote their learning empowerment whilst providing the necessary care and support to succeed.

2.1. Fostering student development by stimulating curiosity and independence in learning.

Students are the drive of my lesson planning since all the activities have a clear objective and tackle their accountability and curiosity. The variety of pedagogical strategies and class preparation aims at promoting individual learning. These assignments are mandatory and promote students’ accountability and ownership of their learning process because having the material ahead of time allows them to identify unclear ideas to explore in class and to think about other applicable examples. Besides, the selection of material brings students closer to their own realities, and this stimulates their curiosity, which later translates into analytical thinking and emerging research skills.

I also encourage curiosity and accountability by creating safe spaces (physically and virtually) for students to ask questions and receive significant feedback. Questions are always welcome in my classes and students know that it is alright to clarify concepts and if they feel a bit shy in class, they can use other channels of communication. Moreover, students know they can bring their own significant input to class such as relevant content relating to the Law of contract that they can relate to in their daily lives. These opportunities are frequent and highly appreciated since they value and reward student curiosity and become the path to unstructured learning.

However, a safe space also allows students to acknowledge their mistakes and to be honest, and honesty is key for independent learning. My students know exactly what work needs to be covered if they have missed class as they have a properly structured student guide that includes a planner that indicates how many lectures each unit will use up. Also, I have had students telling me the real reason why a task wasn’t submitted on time and knowing that they will have consequences. This acknowledgment signals their emerging accountability for their own learning process. I value and teach honesty greatly because it is the foundation of great professionals, and witnessing my student’s display of honest behavior fills my soul with joy and hope as part of my responsibility is to contribute to producing ethical graduates.

2.2. Contributing to the development of students’ critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and scholarly values.

Contributing to the development of students’ critical thinking skills, analytical skills, and scholarly values.

However, the development of critical thinking and analytical skills does not emerge in isolation: group work is key. I constantly provide spaces for group discussions where selling and buying skills are encouraged and expected. My students understand that their sound opinions are not only welcomed but expected. Collaboration is fertile soil for understanding that the world requires joint efforts and that human beings do not achieve greatness in isolation; that is why on retail simulation, a virtual tool, which brings them closer to each other and allows them to rehearse a possible future work environment.

Working in groups is more than answering questions and sharing ideas because it implies respecting others even when they don’t agree with you. Also, group work promotes collaborative learning, which aligns with my humanistic teaching philosophy.

Moreover, the selection of topics avoids censorship; on the contrary, it promotes controversial topics to visualize the contextual reality students will face in the future. A good example is when I directed students to engage in a debate on the decolonization versus the internationalization of the retail sector; this activity makes students question their own perceptions about the way in which retail is done in our country as opposed to other, more developed countries. Through this kind of activity, students have the opportunity to start developing high-order cognitive skills which are essential for their professional development.

Finally, the selected activities and the classroom environment reinforce scholarly values such as respect to others, integrity, work ethic, and professionalism. In my classes, such values are taught on a daily basis through activities and positive feedback. I strongly believe that values are developed through time and they are the result of constant effort, and there is nothing more rewarding than seeing traits of such values at the end of courses.

2.3. Encouraging student engagement through enthusiasm shown for learning and teaching.

As a teacher, I know I can become my students’ role model, so I display a positive attitude towards the subject matter, the challenges it presents, and the diverse groups of students in my classroom. My focus is on building a safe fun positive learning environment, and I do this by starting off each week with a motivational speech emerging from any topic in the current affairs and coming up with fun marketing/retail-related scenarios/case studies that make the sector topics manageable to understand.

My bubbly personality, love for the industry, being prepared, keeping abreast with current changes in the industry and being open to learning from my students assures, tutors and supplemental instructors motivate and encourage student engagement. My students can easily relate the subject matter to everyday life because they see the relevance of the theoretical and applicable content through selected exercises I give them. As a result, they contribute and this encourages them to excel.

Students are celebrated and rewarded for outstanding work. My students know that even if they fail at their first attempt, they will be given ample opportunities to master what they need to learn. I make an effort to learn my students’ names so that they realize that I acknowledge them as diverse individuals while they sit in a class of eighty plus students. This simple but significant practice makes them realize that they are not just a number to me, but individuals that are important to me. This recognition of their individuality together with the fact that I look at each student holistically ensures each of my students that I want them to succeed.

Also, my availability reinforces my commitment to teaching. Being accessible to my students, especially for the shy ones who do not want to speak in front of a large group, those that prefer learning on their own and for those who need further explanation makes a difference. I make myself available after class and during my consultation times, and students who prefer to remain anonymous can participate in WhatsApp/Email/Ms Teams platforms and comfortably. They understand that I will answer their questions as soon as I can if they try to reach me after business hours.

I have noted that relevant content and safe spaces result in engagement which in turn results in the likelihood of success. I see it as my responsibility to be a role model and a mentor to my students. I believe being an enthusiastic and passionate ambassador for my discipline and addressing student challenges helps me to motivate learners. My work ethic inspires my students to learn and allows me to ask for the same. My teaching is built on trust and students’ engagement.

2.4. Inspiring and Motivating students through high-level communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills..

Inspiring and Motivating students through high-level communication, presentation, and interpersonal skills.

Active listening makes a difference when a student seeks an understanding of either a concept or a personal situation. Good communication goes beyond providing clear instructions or explanations; active listening is critical so that students feel that they are being listened to. Paying attention to a student can change the perception that student has regarding the subject matter. For example, a simple nod and a smile reassure students that I am listening to them.

In my classroom, I encourage effective communication by asking questions that guide students to think critically and repeating, recapping what was learned previously so that students are able to make the required connections. Observing body language and listening to responses helps me determine if learning is taking place and in case of a negative outcome, I can change the teaching strategy to achieve my objective for the lesson. I also address incorrect or incomplete answers by highlighting the positive- points and outlining what was missing from the answer. Words matter when motivation is at risk, and students can learn from their mistakes if as a teacher I encourage their strengths and provide support for overcoming areas of improvement.

Being an empathetic, authentic and confident communicator helps my students understand the content and makes them feel comfortable enough to come to me with their school or personal problems and challenges. However, my interpersonal skills are just part of who I am. I believe in direct and effective communication, so I treat my students with kindness and respect. They know that I am open-minded and that they can trust me, so building rapport happens organically and it helps my students present other points as they are comfortable to voice their ideas or perspectives which results in them contributing to the body of knowledge. This contributes to my personal development as I also learn from my students.