The following principles guide my work with students: (1) commitment to social justice, (2) inquiry-based learning, (3) using multiple teaching styles to meet various learning needs, and (4) mentoring learners. These three principles form the core of my teaching philosophy and are the foundation on which I build my courses and build relationships with students.
Commitment to Social Justice: I acknowledge that education is a social resource which has historically and is presently denied to many people to achieve political goals. As such, knowledge empowers individuals to liberate themselves and others from social, political, and economic oppression. Therefore I seek to create a learning environment respects and includes all people, especially those who have previously been excluded from or disadvantaged by the system.
Learning Begins with a Question: Questions form the basis of all knowledge. In my courses I work to incorporate inquiry-based activities that allow students to explore their understanding of topics and concepts. I develop each class session around a set of guiding questions. These guiding questions highlight the core concepts and are intended to assist students in critically analyzing course material. The guiding questions also empower students to connect course material to concepts from other courses and often encourages them to apply what we have learned to issues facing society outside of the classroom.
Multiple Teaching Techniques to Reach Multiple Learners: We know that students learn differently. Some can sit through a lecture listening intently and earn straight A’s without writing down a single word. Others scribble madly during a presentation and then spend hours memorizing and reviewing the material. As my primary goal is to create a classroom in which all students can succeed, I employ a variety of teaching techniques to accommodate a variety of learning styles. In addition to combining traditional lectures, class discussions, small group activities, and multi-media presentations in class, I regularly engage students outside of the classroom to better understand their needs and so that I can work with them to provide a supportive learning environment.
Be a Mentor: Overall I strive to be a mentor. In my view, the relationship between professors and students are often one-way streets. Professors develop expectations and hold students accountable. On the other hand, the relationship between a mentor and the mentee is more reflexive. As a mentor it is my responsibility to provide knowledge and guidance to students. At the same time, I understand that students may have knowledge and experiences that I do not. As a mentor I expect to learn as much from students as they learn from me. More formal than friendship, the mentor-mentee relationship is based in mutual respect and understanding, this is the relationship I seek with my students. As a mentor I strive to provide students with practical knowledge and skills that will prepare them for their careers, graduate education, or to change the world.