I believe that teaching is not just about having extensive knowledge on a topic or a subject but teaching involves passion for actively engaging with the content and inviting students to co-create knowledge that is grounded in multiple perspectives. I embrace learning-centered teaching that places the students at the center of the learning process. This form of teaching is purposeful and as a teacher it is my responsibility to know my students, their learning styles, and what prior knowledge, preparation and experiences the students bring to our classroom. Each semester I set personal goals to get to know all of my students, not just their names but also their interests, career goals and passions outside the classroom. I believe my genuine interest in them as individuals cultivates respect and show them that I care about them and their learning. Additionally, I try to incorporate what I know about my students into the learning and discussion, primarily through examples.
Within the classroom, as a teacher, it is my duty to create and foster an environment that is safe and brave, both physically and psychologically. During the first meeting, the students and I, create expectations for us to create an environment that is safe and inclusive. I strongly encourage students to respectfully share their thoughts and questions in the classroom. Furthermore, I believe that safe classroom environments allow open exchange of knowledge between all constituents: teachers and students. I believe that my classroom should be a space that empowers individuals through dialogue and learning to grow, challenge, mature emotionally, intellectually, physically, and socially and to create an environment that instills critical thinking and curiosity in the students.
I believe that for growth to occur, my students must have a balance of challenge and support. I challenge my students by setting high expectations. One goal that I have for my students is to think critically. That is, I want them to think holistically and apply the knowledge they have learned inside and outside the classroom. Therefore, I provide students with questions to think about while actively engaging with literature so that their reading can be motivated and directed (e.g. What are the main themes of a particular study? What evidence exists to support these themes? How do you apply these themes to various situations? What kinds of examples have you seen in other studies?). I encourage students to find real life examples and share them in the classroom that relate to the course content so that we can have focused and in-depth conversations.
Additionally, I provide support by acknowledging and encouraging students to keep trying and to ask for help. Throughout the semester I provide extensive feedback on classroom participation, written assignments and I meet with students for guidance and direction. I believe in evaluating each student on his or her progress during the course. I believe that all students enter the classroom with different backgrounds, preparation and knowledge base; therefore, assessment of the student’s performance should take that into consideration.
Finally, I believe in seeking feedback from my students to tailor the curriculum to their needs. This process involves constant assessment (formal and informal) of the curriculum and classroom discussions to make sure that the goals of the classroom are met. During my individual meetings with the students, I seek feedback by asking questions about their learning, about my teaching practices, about the classroom environment, various readings and assignments, and the methods I practice to meet the goals of the curriculum. I use the feedback to evaluate and employ change accordingly.