Statement of Teaching Philosophy

My pedagogical practices are motivated by my passion for inclusive education and further informed by my academic background in postcolonial studies.  My teaching philosophy, then, is as intimately connected to my personal commitment to anti-racist education as it is to my firm belief that motivation and mutual respect are fundamental preconditions to learning.  With this in mind, I have two goals as an educator: to actively engage my students in the meaning-making process by encouraging them to reflect on the ways in which they learn, and to empower my students to become critically aware and responsible global citizens.

In my classroom, students learn by doing.  Within this paradigm, students take ownership of their learning, and my role is that of a guide.  My objective in the classroom is always threefold: 1) to engage my learners by making the material challenging, exciting, and relevant to their lives, 2) to de-mystify assessment practices, and 3) to build a collaborative learning community of peers. By planning lessons and projects that engage students and elicit thoughtful responses, I want my students to push their own boundaries to think critically and creatively.

Engaging learners

The core assignment in my Bollywood cinema course is a creative re-write.  The assignment asks students to “rewrite” an episode from a film on the course syllabus to offer a perspective other than that of the director’s.  Students are welcome to add dialogue, remove a character and rewrite the scene without her, or change the ending of the film. This rewrite can take many forms: students may design a Bollywood film poster for a Hollywood movie, create a sound track, act out a scene, etc.  The purpose of the assignment is for students to not only understand but also enact a central concept in post-colonial studies: hybridity.  Designing the assignment in this manner gives my students an opportunity to relate their own experiences to the global perspectives introduced in class.

De-mystifying assessment practices

I also believe that in order to be truly engaged and critical thinkers, students must be able to understand classroom assessment and evaluation practices.  As a result, I make it a priority to involve students in this process through checklists and rubrics.  I often compile these documents with the class so that students are able to identify criteria for success and have a clear understanding of the expected learning outcomes.  Each week, I also ask students in my academic writing class to set specific writing goals for themselves.  This individual goal-setting allows them to monitor their own progress and reflect on their learning.

Building a collaborative learning community of peers

My approach in my Business Communications classes is to establish a team-based, collaborative learning environment.  At the beginning of the term, I group students in pairs: the purpose of these partnerships is for students to motivate and learn from each other over the course of the term.  Students routinely meet with their partners to offer peer feedback on assignments and to complete interactive in-class assignments.  At the end of the term, these partnerships allow an easy transition to group research projects and presentations.  Because relationships of trust, mutual respect, and informal mentorship have already been established amongst students, they are able to transfer these skills to a larger team environment and, ultimately, to the work world beyond our classroom.

Finally, I believe that to teach is to learn, and it is my students who have helped shape me into the reflective teacher I am today.  Their comments and behaviours teach me about how they learn and about what motivates them, while their queries challenge me and push the boundaries of what I know.