- Understanding Human Society (SOC 2000)
- Social Problems (SOC 2020)
- Social Inequalities (SOC 3300)
A central idea of my teaching philosophy is that education should enable students to reach their academic goals and to empower those students to become critical thinkers. As a sociologist, I realize that structural differences in access to education have created an education gap; as an educator, my goal is to close the achievement gap on an individual level by teaching and mentoring in a way that is tailored to my students’ needs. I am thankful that the majority of my teaching experiences have been in introductory courses because this has allowed me to experiment with and fine-tune my courses from semester to semester with a focus on student-centered teaching methods that are effective for all types of learners.
I believe that students should be learning for the real world. A central learning objective in my classes is for students to be able to demonstrate how thinking sociologically is relevant to understanding the social world they live in, particularly through the lens of diversity. Students work towards this goal in my classroom by engaging with social problems of present-day importance, which requires them to think critically about those issues. In an exercise I conduct in my introductory sociology course, for example, students reflect on their social location (class, gender, race, ethnicity, nationality, religious beliefs, age, and ability), how their positionality has affected their access to education, and how this has in turn affected their experiences in school. These activities inspire in student’s curiosity about social structures and social issues that encourages lifelong learning. This hands-on approach to sociology is especially well-suited for lower level courses and for non-majors, but would also find application in more specialized upper-division courses.
I believe that students learn best in a real, robust context. Teaching is more than a linear process with instructors telling students what to learn and what to think. By the end of the semester, my students are more active learners, not just passive consumers of knowledge. Students learn from each other’s experiences and differences, and by working together in a respectful and non-judgmental manner on solving problems. Collaborative assignments ensure that together they master new concepts and understand the material by explaining it to each other. By trying to find a balance between challenge and support for learners of all levels, I give all my students a voice in my classroom. I consciously design my classes to be a mix of lecture, individual work, group work, and online discussions to ensure all students find a medium in which they learn best.
Education is not limited to the classroom but continuous with the world outside. Teaching introductory classes that are open to students of all majors has allowed me to reach and mentor students that are still uncertain about their major or career choices. It makes me proud beyond words when I can assist students to see their academic potential and show them options they hadn’t yet considered.
I am constantly improving my teaching skills and adopting best teaching practices by attending teaching workshops and consulting with the university’s Office of Teaching and Learning (OTL). I have taken courses on course development, such as Designing Courses for Significant Learning and Universal Design for Learning – Design with Everyone in Mind, courses on effective teaching methods, such as Student Centered Teaching Methods and Leading Effective Discussions, as well as courses that have helped me to become a better instructor for a diverse student body, such as Supporting Transfer Students’ Success in the Class and Community Service-Learning Course Design.