My main goal as an instructor is to help my students become independent learners.
Most of my classes are based in lecture. However, I ask a lot of questions in class in order to lead students through the material. I also occasionally have students solve problems in small groups. I find it hard to gauge student understanding without actually watching students work on problems. Also, group work forces students to communicate mathematically with their peers, which means that they need to internalize the mathematics to a deeper extent.
I assign projects in some classes, like Linear Algebra and Calculus II. Students are asked to come up with a problem and then solve it using techniques learned in the course. Finally, they are to write up the solution. I think that projects are a good way to foster independent learning, because instead of only answering someone else's question, students have to come up with the question themselves, and then answer it. This process mirrors independent mathematical research, albeit on a much smaller scale.
On a larger scale, I occasionally direct independent studies, lead undergraduate research, and supervise Honors theses. These students work on their own, engaging in research that is original to them, and in some cases approaching "real" mathematics.
From time to time, I teach courses outside the mathematics department, for the General Education and Honors programs. Dr. Bhattacharyya and I are currently developing a course for Pacific Seminar II that will relate mathematics to social justice. I like teaching these courses because it gives me a chance to branch out, taking mathematics to other disciplines and bringing other disciplines to mathematics.
Associate Professor of Mathematics