My approach to teaching demands honesty — presenting myself genuinely to a class, being fully present and engaged, and being open to the needs of the participants. Only through open dialogue with students can we learn how they think, what they need, or where their interests or aspirations lie.
By listening with intention and care, I give students the respect they deserve as humans engaging in a collaborative educational experience. People tend to return the respect they are given, which in teaching creates mutually beneficial, cooperative learning environments. I work to create situations where students hold more knowledge or expertise in the subject matter and I share my experience with writing, teaching, and learning to help them examine their perceptions and develop their perspectives.
Within mutually beneficial, cooperative environments, teaching and learning can flourish—particularly teaching that incorporates careful listening, attentive flexibility, and a dash of trust. Combining these elements creates classes that respond to students and emphasize not the content but the people involved. And as teachers, the people we work with constitute our top priority.
Two fundamental values guide my teaching philosophy:
These principles direct both my course design and daily interactions. At their most basic, the two principles lead me to give students opportunities to discuss and share ideas rather than lecture. These principles compel me to help shape how students think without telling them what to think, allowing them to make connections and reach conclusions on their own.
Each of these principles lead to greater student agency in the classroom. By listening to students first and foremost, I demonstrably prioritize their needs over my agenda. I use their feedback to determine pacing, conversation topics, and enrichment exercises to help them where they are.
Letting students learn for themselves allows me to be seen as a collaborator, rather than an answer key. I lead students through adaptive learning experiences, rather than toward a predetermined outcome. This does not involve an abandonment of outcomes but rather a recognition that the journey proves more valuable than the destination.