Inclusive Pedagogy

I really enjoyed this week’s readings on inclusive pedagogy because I think it is something that we all have to consider as teachers, especially when it comes to implicit biases. We all have grown up with unique experiences, and those views without a doubt shape the way we teach. Understanding how we can be self-aware of it when we go into the classroom will ultimately make us more successful teachers in the long run.

The Georgetown article had some good strategies that I’ve tried to incorporate into my teaching style. For example, the idea that diversity will be present in the classroom is true, and it does not just mean in terms of racially. I teach a public speaking class where I have students from all sorts of majors at Virginia Tech. That’s why we have speeches in the class where they can talk about concepts they have learned about in their major. I think that in turn gets them comfortable talking about something they have a baseline understanding about and as a result makes my class more enjoyable.

In addition, I love getting to know my students on an individual basis. Before classes start, I always play music- mostly older music such as “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” by Stevie Wonder and “Move on Up” by Curtis Mayfield. My goal is that hopefully that will get them relaxed heading into class. Also, we do these informal assignments called “impromptu speeches” where I will ask students to share their thoughts on a random topic. For example, last week I ask my students to share their favorite place to eat off campus in Blacksburg and I ended up getting all but one student to participate! Asking our students questions to get to know them personally helps foster a  good classroom culture and hopefully brings forth active listeners and engagement.

What do other folks do to promote an inclusive learning style? I would love to be able to take some of your feedback back to my students.

Discovering My Authentic Teaching Self

I did not know how to feel when I found out that I would be a graduate teaching assistant teaching a public speaking class comprising of approximately 80 students. I had never imagined that I would teach in any setting. However I come from a family of teachers, so maybe it was something that I would have tried out eventually.

I do not usually consider myself someone who gets overwhelmed, but the week leading up to the first day of classes I was close. We had a weeklong orientation the week prior to get ready for teaching, and while I did not doubt that it would prepare me, it was still an immense amount of information to take in. While other TAs gave advice on the best way to approach teaching, ultimately I knew that I would not really find the answer until I went into the classroom myself.

I have always liked teachers who were passionate about what they were teaching and approachable, yet serious enough to command control of the classroom. I decided that I would take what I could from them, in the end I would have to forge my own identity. I decided to be myself as best I could, corny jokes included.

Don’t get me wrong. I do not just totally act like myself unfiltered in the classroom. There is still a level of professionalism I try to bring to my students. But after I took a deep breath that first day, I was more at ease with trying to do my job. Also, I think students are more understanding than we give them credit for. Most understand when you try to do your best, and displaying the passion you have for your class is a plus.

I have no plans to enter teaching after I finish my masters, but there are many skills that we all gain from working in this profession. In particular, working with others and watching our students grow and develop in their skills. Ultimately however, we find out about ourselves in the way we teach skills to others. I hope to have gotten better at that by the end of this year.