have always considered teaching an essential part of my academic life, and
have devoted much thought and energy to it. My aim as a teacher is not only
to teach students to work easily with mathematical concepts, but also to do
it in an effective way, making the learning process interesting and
enjoyable, as mathematics itself is.
I have a rather extensive experience in teaching large and small
courses at different levels, working with students of different
temperaments and mathematical abilities. I always take into account the
unique "chemistry" of my students. I use student
"reactions" to understand their level, needs and concerns. Some
students are more active and motivated - they are independent and do not
hesitate, for instance, to state their questions in class. Other students
are shy and can do well only with strong support and encouragement.
Students with weak capacities often need intensive individual help and
I try to discourage "memorizing." It is unfortunate that
many students do not realize that understanding the basic definitions and
concepts of a subject makes route memorization unnecessary.
I encourage students to ask questions. As a part of this
encouragement I promote active learning in my classes. My favorite trick is
to ask the students to vote against or in favor of different options
related to a difficult problem. This forces a student to wake up and create
his/her own opinion related to the problem. Even if a student is wrong,
after a correct explanation is understood, in my opinion, a better and
deeper understanding will be achieved.
I always try to create an atmosphere in class that makes students
feel comfortable, and is conducive to doing math. Sometimes a joke is
appropriate. "Eye contact" is absolutely essential for students'
My work with students is not finished with the bell, and
goes beyond the "lecture time." Web sites with outlines for
course material and grading procedures are maintained for all my classes.
From such a web site students can obtain up-to-date information on the
course, such as notes for upcoming tests, test samples, etc. Some students
face problems with understanding material in class. Based on individual
cases I use different approaches to help these students. Some students
prefer to ask questions in one-to-one situations, such as personal
consultations in office hours or discuss their problems immediately after
the lecture. Others prefer to get in touch by e-mails or by phone. In any
case, I always find time for my students.
I intend to be a good and fair teacher. I try to achieve this
by well-prepared assignments and tests, as well as a good deal of feedback
and personal interaction with my students and teaching assistants. I do my
best to make the examinations rest on the course requirements and on the
average level of the class. The tests always reflect what was taught in the
course. Regular quizzes and home works help me to find gaps in the
students' understanding. Graded assignments are always returned very
promptly. When I see that the students do not follow me, I repeat the same
argument/concept in another, perhaps simpler way. I strongly encourage
attendance at my lectures to make learning more efficient and less
time-consuming for the students. I always learn from my students through
their questions, observations and challenges, just as they learn from me
through my lectures and assignments.
Although most of my teaching skills are a result of teaching
experience, as well as numerous conversations with master teachers, I do
have some pedagogical background. I have completed a course in pedagogy for
future university teachers called "Becoming a University Teacher"
given by the Chalmers Centre for Educational Development from 21 February -
29 March 2000, which consisted of five full days of face to face workshops
and two half days of microteaching. Also, at Novosibirsk State University,
I completed a course in psychology, which helps me avoid conflict
situations with my students.
By working in the UK, US, Iceland, Sweden and Russia I acquired
broad international teaching experience. It gave me a good opportunity to
compare and analyze aspects from different educational systems, as well as
to interact with the students having different mentalities and cultural
I close by saying that I enjoy teaching, and I receive positive
teaching evaluations from my students.