Updated June 2022
As a teacher educator, I am positioned to indirectly impact so many classrooms and so many students, which for me is incredibly exciting, but also a responsibility that cannot be taken lightly. Throughout the course of my career, I have been responsible for teaching various types of teachers: pre-service undergraduate and graduate students preparing to be K-12 teachers, undergraduate and graduate students serving as teaching and learning assistants, and faculty instructors of undergraduate and graduate courses. Although teaching teachers in all of these different contexts requires distinctive considerations and approaches, I feel that my overarching teaching philosophy can be applied to any context. Across my experiences teaching various types of teachers, I continuously exhibit a philosophy of teaching as scholarly, collaborative, and reflective.
Teaching as scholarly. On a broad level, teaching is evidence-based in that there is an expansive body of research literature describing strategies and practices that have been shown to be effective in improving instruction. I help teachers apply established education theory and research to their practice by providing them with opportunities to analyze, discuss, and critique a broad range of education literature, and consider how they might apply theory and findings to their classroom context. For instance, students in my different methods classes complete reading responses in which they connect the assigned readings to their experiences in their student teacher placements and note potential applications to their future teaching. On an individual level, teaching is scholarly in that teachers use evidence from their own classrooms to inform instruction. I believe that teachers should consistently collect and analyze data about all aspects of their instruction and use the data to make informed changes to instruction that will better meet student learning needs. I help the teachers that I work with to develop meaningful formative assessment tools as well as elicit, interpret, and respond to student thinking. I also help the teachers that I work with develop tools to collect feedback from their students, and assist them in interpreting and applying their findings. For example, in a course design faculty learning community I led, I incorporated a session on designing a mid-semester feedback tool, and then led a subsequent session on responding to student feedback. In all of my teaching experiences, I consistently highlight the importance of investigating teaching and learning through collecting evidence.
Teaching is collaborative. I believe that learning to teach should be a social experience and that a teacher’s greatest resource in learning to teach is his or her colleagues. I believe that teachers gain new knowledge when they share ideas with others; therefore, I structure my courses and instructional experiences to be highly discussion based and interactive. In all of my teaching roles, I incorporate peer critique and feedback opportunities into many of the assignments that I give. For example, in my methods courses I explicitly teach about effective peer critique and incorporate several structured opportunities for students to peer critique each other’s lesson plans, activities, and unit overviews. In the faculty learning community that I led, I facilitated peer observations and peer feedback on learning outcomes, assessments, and course alignment. In the blended course to support academic peer mentors I co-taught, I created an online module about how to both engage in and support students in engaging in effective peer critique, and integrated online peer review requirements throughout the course. I hope that through these experiences, the teachers that I work with will see the value in collaboration and feedback for their ongoing development and that they will continue to engage in professional critique after my course or program.
Teaching is reflective. I believe that learning to teach requires constantly reflecting on one’s thinking and learning; therefore, I ask the teachers that I work with to reflect both through discussion and in writing about what they are learning and how it applies to their practice. For example, in my methods courses I require students to submit a written analysis and reflection after practice teaching the lesson plans they create. I incorporated reflection as an explicit goal in the courses I developed for undergraduate teaching and learning assistants. These undergraduates have reported that their experience in my course helped them to better understand reflective practices, evaluate their learning, and self-assess their performance. Additionally, I include opportunities for written and oral reflection throughout and at the end of every teaching workshop that I offer to faculty, and have even given workshops explicitly on the topic of reflection. By supporting teachers’ engagement with critical reflection, I hope to promote self-awareness and self-regulated learning well-beyond the learning environment.
Through my roles as an instructor and educational developer, salient throughout my pedagogy is the notion that teaching is a skill that can always be improved. I believe that improvement in teaching requires systematic investigation, collaboration, and a great deal of reflection; therefore, I incorporate these ideas throughout my teaching. I hope that by helping teachers to see teaching and learning as scholarly, collaborate and support each other, and engage in reflection, that I will be able to have a positive, wide-reaching impact on teaching and learning at all levels.