Teaching statement

I am interested in helping students find things: a question they didn’t know they had; a key sacred narrative; a community of identification and support; a missing link; courage to resist; an experience that perfectly (or imperfectly) fits them; a moment where everything clicks; a vision of the future; hope for what comes next; a book or story that changes them; a pattern or connection they never realized before; their voice to articulate their curiosity and interests; courage to try something new; courage to not know the answer; inner strength and resilience; their anger over injustice; their creative confidence; empathy towards others.

 I don’t always know exactly where these things are, but I’ll walk with them and help them look.

 I’ve taught for years in multiple settings, subjects, and age groups, with one common thread: teaching to me is primarily an act of love.

The heart of education as a practice of freedom is to promote growth. It’s very much an act of love in that sense of love as something that promotes our spiritual and mental growth.
— Bell Hooks

It is my intent that students from diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well served by my courses, that student’s learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength and benefit. It is my intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. I encourage and appreciate suggestions by students.

 My pedagogy is grounded in creative practices, critical thinking, and experiential learning. My hope is that our classroom is culturally attentive, prioritizes curiosity, questions assumptions, and that students feel comfortable with risk-taking. In this sense, I prioritize iteration and feedback as a strategy for growth. Process is as important as product in my classroom.

 My scholarly interests are influenced by my experience with theological education, and are primarily focused on contextual education – that is, on preparing students for multi-dimensional learning experiences that integrate instruction and reflection with opportunities for service, professional development, and formation at organizational sites. Put simply, contextual education provides students with opportunities to construct meaning based on their own “real life” experiences.

 As students participate in this community and organizationally-based work, they engage processes of collaborative learning; inquiry and engagement with problems; self-regulated learning; knowledge production; cultural sensitivity, and the development of reflexive practices that engage the self and the organizational context.

 My methods of instruction support learning and the integration of knowledge within multiple contexts, and include lectures and discussions; role play and simulations; field conversations with professionals; novels and films for discussion; journal writing; interdisciplinary readings and creative content, and faculty engagement and guest speakers.