Have a look at My Courses for descriptions of some of my teaching in action!
Teaching for me is an intentional, deliberate, and developing practice. Learning for me is also an intentional, and ever developing practice. Learning does not just take place in the classroom, but in every conversation, interaction, and life experience; every moment is a teaching and learning opportunity. Learning and teaching are an interrelated and multidirectional process – I learn as much from the students in the room as they learn from me. I approach the teaching/learning process as a collaborative exercise, one that is iterative and reflexive.
My goal as a teacher is to inspire students to view learning as a lifelong process that they engage in every day, not something that stops at the classroom door or at the point of graduation. My task as a teacher is to challenge, facilitate and engage students’ attention within a safe space and create opportunities for them to see the world in different ways. My challenge as a teacher and fellow learner is to be reflexive about my teaching practice in acknowledging my strengths and learning from my mistakes.
My teaching philosophy encompasses three interrelated actions: encouraging new perspectives, providing tools for student success, and collaboration in the learning process.
Encourage new perspectives. Part of my teaching practice is establishing an open and safe space in which students can engage their own intellectual imagination. No question is too silly, and all questions provide new avenues to challenge the status quo and encourage critical thinking. Whether it is guiding students to unpack beliefs or deconstruct notions of power, it is important to encourage students to question deeply held assumptions. However, learning can sometimes be a scary and uncomfortable process. Creating a respectful environment where students feel comfortable and secure enables them to engage in this scary process.
Provide tools for student success. Success does not only come in the classroom in the form of grades, but also balance with other areas of life such as work and relationships. I provide my students with a ‘tool kit’ of both campus and community resources to assist with everything from a lack of funds and mental health to tips on how to study and time management. Academic success is supported through meaningful feedback with clear avenues for improvement and recognition of good work along with academic honesty and skills workshops. Scaffolded writing assignments provide multiple points for feedback to students to improve their writing and critical thinking skills. My time is a tool for student success as well, such as a timely response to an email reducing a student’s stress, a quick question answered during a chance meeting in the hall, or my oft repeated statement that office hours are the students’ time, not mine.
Collaboration in the Learning Process. In life, no one works alone. Part of my teaching practice is to encourage skills that go beyond the classroom, like collaboration which easily transfers to every aspect of life. I encourage collegiality (rather than competition) in the learning process, such as in partnered assignments or group debates. Differences of opinion occur, thus respect for others is a key learning outcome in every course, and modelled in every class. The ability to actively hear others, and respond in a respectful and open manner, is a form of collaborative learning in a non-competitive way. For example, peer evaluation is built into each course using rubrics co-created with students at the beginning of the course. This not only contributes to the creation of a safe space, but engages students in the learning and evaluation process.