STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
“A very wise old teacher once said: “I consider a day’s teaching wasted if we do not all have one hearty laugh.” He meant that when people laugh together, they cease to be young and old, master and pupils, jailer and prisoners. They become a single group of human beings enjoying its existence.” — Gilbert Highet
I love teaching. I always have a few distinct goals when I step into a classroom to teach. First, my most important objective is to convey the information I want my students to learn in a manner that effectively facilitates adaptation of understanding. Second, I strive to help them establish and develop their critical thinking skills. I find this especially important when working with students who may not yet have had sufficient time or opportunities to hone these skills. Finally, I strive to build communities of learning in the classroom and I work to foster an environment that allows students to recognize the importance of their voice and provide a space where they are comfortable expressing their own ideas, knowledge, and experiences. At the end of the day I want my students to understand that learning can never truly happen in a vacuum but instead is a powerfully dynamic process that they deserve to be a part of.
One area of focus in my studies has always been restorative justice and the use of peacemaking circles in the classroom. Within these circles consensus decision making and dialogue work together to guide the process, and I have utilized these circles, not only to introduce my students to restorative justice practices and social justice policies but also as a method for bringing the class together in intellectual discussions finding they provide an avenue for engaging students in developing critical thinking skills. Yet, the best point of utilizing these circles has been their ability to build communities of learning within the classroom. Many of the goals I have for my students and my classroom are facilitated by the use of the peacemaking circles. I am able to talk with students about their topics of interest and it provides space for discussions that help bridge information and ideas into the arena of critical analysis.
It is important to me to encourage and facilitate critical thinking skills with my students. I continually make it a point throughout the semester to stay current with local, national, and international news stories and bring in topics related to coursework to bridge what we are learning in class with real-world examples and to model critical thinking skills. For my lectures, I often spend quality time preparing notes and use the board or power point slides so students will have a visual outline for their own note taking. I do not like to proceed through lectures as if delivering a monologue and instead enjoy trying to engage the class and tend to ask students a lot of questions throughout lectures. I work on getting to know my students interests and attempt to tie in discussions and materials from other courses in the program.
When evaluating student’s performance in class I find it useful to offer several different methods of evaluation, including a combination of testing, assignments, exercises, and credit for attendance and participation. Additionally, I have used extra credit options on multiple occasions. I believe that because students learn best through various methods it is important to utilize various methods to ascertain growth and performance throughout the course. My students learn that I am not only passionate about the topics I teach but their success in my class as well. I will go out of my way to work with students facing difficulties and I make myself available through cell phone, email, and office hours.
As a professor, I am interested in becoming the very best teacher that I can be. I have developed my own survey tool that I have utilized for several semesters while working to incorporate the feedback, ideas and suggestions into the courses I teach. I have also become very interested in merging traditional pedagogy with technological advancements in academia, and I continually engage in professional development trainings in order to stay current with best practices. I have already begun initiating several new technological features that I use in my own courses and I am encouraged by these opportunities.
I look forward to continuing to develop my skills within the classroom as well as in an online format. I aspire to be an excellent teacher wherever it is that I teach, yet I am not only interested in teaching my students but also in reaching my students. It is my hope to inspire, encourage, and support them in their individual path to greatness. When I see my students growing intellectually, maintaining and persisting through their challenges, and when I see them succeeding and working in the areas that they are passionate about, these are the times that I feel that I am winning.
Statement of Inclusivity and Commitment to Diversity
I was raised in a multi-cultural family and was provided an environment from an early age where values of inclusivity and diversity were modeled on a continuous basis. It was not until a few years later upon entering the “real world” that I learned that not everyone had the same opinions about the value of inclusion. In my own life I have battled against attitudes and actions based on ignorance, intolerance, and injustice, but I have found that I would rather continue to fight back through education and knowledge rather than to submit to an existence where these practices are rationalized and exacerbated by the lack of any meaningful action.
For almost a decade, I have taught at a HBCU (Historically Black College/University). In my own classes, as an instructor, from day one I encourage my students to understand the value of both their own voice and that of their peers. I use techniques and processes throughout the semester to encourage them to build confidence in the value of their own experience and to learn to give that same value to others experience. I try to teach my students that one of the first steps in producing and absorbing knowledge is to create and engage in dialogue with others. I push them to acknowledge the fact that you have to be able to do that among diverse people, within diverse groups, and among people with vastly different experiences, in order to gain a true appreciation of greater truths and knowledge. Learning is a very dynamic process and we often have to be willing to engage in sometimes difficult conversations in order to produce that critical thought necessary to broaden our perspective and I continually push my students to understand this truth. Encouraging this type of growth is definitely one of my favorite things about teaching.
Newest Book Released:
January 1, 2016