I believe that learning is a collaborative process of making connections. Student learning happens in a variety of settings on campus—classrooms, labs, through peer mentoring, student organizations—and beyond the academy. To both learn and teach, one has to first listen. Living life is a continual learning process. Learning is about making mistakes, reflecting on them and growing mentally and emotionally as an outcome of these reflections, both personally and collectively.
As an instructor, I seek to create a hands-on learning community in the classroom that facilitates peer-to-peer learning and validates the life experiences students bring to the learning setting. I have taught a wide-range of undergraduate material, including: radio production, composition and public speaking, within the topical areas of media systems, strategic communication, journalism and communication for the life sciences. In addition, in the fall of 2010 I co-coordinated an interdisciplinary graduate seminar addressing issues of science and communication in the twenty-first century. Through these experiences, I fostered a commitment to helping students engage with the world around them, both locally and beyond our borders. In my time as a graduate student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, outside of formal teaching duties, I have also shared my experiences researching abroad through giving guest lectures and in informal conversations with fellow learners.
I enact my teaching and learning philosophy in the classroom with continual formative assessment of student learning through including a mix of large and small group classroom activities, with an emphasize on open-ended scenario-based exercises designed to stimulate student problem-solving and creativity. I also continually seek to be self-reflective in my teaching and open to changing course and trying new instructional methods if I realize something is not working out as planned. I design summartive assessment methods with the goal of measuring students’ higher-order understanding of key concepts and ability to transfer skills gained to other facets of their lives. This critical reflection in and outside of the classroom makes me a more dynamic instructor who seeks integrate the unique motivations each set of students bring to our shared learning community. In this way I see teaching as scholarship of active learning and reflection to help realize achieve authentic achievement.
Understanding where my students are at in their personal learning journeys is an important guiding principle at the core of my teaching. As a teacher, I strive to integrate feedback from my students into my instruction. In a critical moment in the classroom, as a teaching assistant for a radio production course for first-year students, I found that my students on the whole did very poorly on a early-semester assignment asking them to write a one-minute news story. I then asked the class how many of them listen to news radio on a regular basis. Only a handful raised their hands. I decided to step back and reflect on how I could improve my teaching methods. I needed to recognize that they did not come to the learning environment with prior knowledge that would have enabled them to successfully complete the assignment. We listened as a group to several news stories, using them as a case study to discuss the elements of journalistic writing for the ear and peer reviewed their stories so their were able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their own writing. With this feedback in hand, I gave them an opportunity to resubmit their work for a new grade. This helped lower their anxiety about doing poorly in their first semester of college.
I am excited about teaching. I believe learning is a life-long holistic process, for myself as well as those I teach. After graduate school, as a early career faculty member I will continue to seek out professional development opportunities and to join a learning community of educators on campus and beyond.
This teaching philosophy was developed as part of a UW-Madison Delta Program course, “The College Classroom.” Many thanks to Professor Nick Balster and my colleagues in the class for helpful feedback on the first draft of this statement and for challenging my assumptions about teaching and learning. This is the first of what I hope will be many evolutions of my teaching philosophy as I continue to grow as a teacher in the future.