In the classroom, I employ a humanizing, student-centered pedagogy where all learners' voices are valid, and where practice, exploration and reflection are more important than perfection. I combine my years of experience in the fields of mental health and as an international traveler to create a learning environment that honors the diversity of learner abilities and identities.
I believe in absolute transparency of my classroom and achieve this by maintaining an open-door policy for colleagues, a centralized website for syllabi, and student blog use. The classroom is transformed into both an authentic and online learning community where students regularly interact and know each other's names and all student work may be viewed and commented on by other members of that community.
By taking a problem-based approach to learning and content-integrated approach to teaching I encourage students to work on projects that are meaningful to them; I believe they engage more deeply when learning is connected to their various identities. I therefore see it as my responsibility to help learners build bridges between their passions and talents and their chosen disciplines and intended professions.
One of the current buzzwords in education is undoubtedly scaffolding, the support provided that helps the learner accomplish his or her goals. By breaking down the components of learning into smaller steps and focusing on collaborative discussion and peer feedback, I feel that students can be provided with effective scaffolding. All work is recycled and revisited as students start small and then expand having already laid some of the groundwork through regular homework activities. Instructor conferences, small group activities, peer mentor consultations, revision exercises, and peer discussion, for example, all allow additional support to the evolving learner.
My overall goal as a teacher is for students to complete their courses with a feeling of success and a positive, open-minded, curious attitude towards further study. If I can effectively remove some of the performance anxiety and instill a sense of pleasure in the processes of learning, then I will feel that I have been successful. Because students need opportunities for self-development, I also offer course assistantships where students who have successfully completed my courses are invited to mentor future students. I also encourage the further development of academic communication skills via supporting publication and presentation of student work.