TBT: Teaching Philosophy – UMass Boston, Spring 2013

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is a responsive, reflective set of core values around transformative pedagogy:

  • A critical exploration of the political & sociohistorical dimensions of teaching in the U.S.
  • The co-construction of an inclusive, participatory space with students as a democratic process
  • A constant reengagement with my own praxis through the research, experience with diverse learner populations, and contribution to a community of reflective, critical educators

My Role as a Teacher. I am an expert mentor, working with adult ESL/ESOL learners of various backgrounds and identities through their narratives, goals, communities of experience, and culturally-situated understandings (funds of knowledge) that inform their visions of self and the world. I am Freirean in that I do not believe in the traditional banking model of knowledge, where the learner is passive. I strive to move beyond a skills-based view of education to an exploration of bidialectism, valuing home uses of language, literacy and knowledge while developing outside-the-home uses such as academic and critical literacies in an additive approach where learners engage in new understandings and cultural access points. Central to my teaching is the notion of praxis, a balance and internal dialogue between theory and pedagogical experience, as a means of continued self-development.

Theory and Approaches Underlying My Pedagogy. The language and learning theories supporting my teaching, appropriated from innatism, sociocultural theory, and social constructivism and from thinkers like Paulo Freire and Henry Giroux, focus on co-construction of knowledge, community- and agency-building in the classroom, and critical pedagogy. I draw from Communicative Language Teaching, differentiated instruction and multimodal approaches, interrelated pedagogical territories that view learners as whole, 3-D participants in their ecological surroundings. Successful informal and formal assessments evaluate student development of classroom-based literacies while activating their funds of knowledge to permit cultural individuation, recognition, and contribution.

Teaching in a Community. I strongly value mutual support and collaboration with other teachers and critical thinkers. My set of best practices is constantly being refined by my connection to educators dedicated to honest dialogue and change through transformational pedagogy and other critical views of our educational system’s place in American hegemony as a site of political struggle. I will continue my professional, theoretical, and critical development by beginning a PhD in 2014; in the meantime, I am currently working with nonmainstream students to better understand the diverse literacies, knowledge, and discourses with which they read their world.

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