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Teaching Philosophy Statement

A Transformational Approach
Transformational teaching is more than a professional buzzword to me. It is a teaching
philosophy and approach which shapes every aspect of my teaching. The goal of
transformational teaching is to develop not just content mastery, but foster meaningful personal
development in students (Slavich & Zimbardo, 2012). Slavich and Zimbardo define three key
transformational teaching principles, which are “(1) facilitate students’ acquisition and mastery
of key course concepts; (2) enhance students’ strategies and skills for learning and discovery;
and (3) promote positive learning-related attitudes, values, and beliefs in students” (2012).
Ultimately, my goal for all of my students is to develop not just content knowledge of
intercultural theory or campus resources, but their understanding of and commitment to their
own values, an informed appreciation for other cultures and values, and the capacity to analyze,
problem-solve, and adapt to complex intercultural situations. As an educator working with both
curricular and co-curricular teaching of all levels of adult learners, ranging from first-year
undergraduates to staff and faculty, my audience and their needs are central as I design courses
and workshops. Furthermore, my classroom is designed to be a space for holistic learning, where
students do not need to arbitrarily separate their academic and personal lives. Instead I seek to
relate students’ learning to their lived experiences and to acknowledge the outside world’s
impact on students.
My interactions with students are grounded in my ethic of care. Students know that I am
here to support their success in and outside the classroom, and that I see them as whole people
and not just my students. I have regular office hours and respond within 24 hours, usually
sooner, to all student emails. My students feel comfortable coming to me with issues they are
having, and I work with them to help them problem-solve and connect them to resources.

Liberatory Pedagogy & Self-Authorship

My methods are based on Baxter-Magolda's Learning Partnerships theory as well as my
readings of liberatory pedagogy by Paolo Freire and bell hooks. Freire and hooks argue that
teachers should embrace students as active creators of knowledge, acknowledge their lived
experiences, and co-construct learning with them. Similarly, Learning Partnerships theory has
three central principles, designed to facilitate students’ development of self-authorship. One,
validate learner's capacity to know, two, situate learning in the learner's experience, and three,
define learning as mutually constructing meaning.
I enact this in my classroom by ensuring I relate the material to students' lives and
concerns: making it relevant. I give the students ownership by inviting them to create their own
learning goals and shape the direction of the course. I begin my courses by asking students to
share their goals for the course and what they want to walk away with. Then I explain how this
course will meet those goals. Then students create a classroom agreement where they co-
construct the classroom environment, reflecting on their expectations for themselves, each other,
and the professor for the semester. This way, students have ownership of the classroom and are

working towards goals they have set for themselves, rather than ones imposed by the teacher,
and are more engaged and motivated to learn.

Culturally Inclusive Teaching

A central tenet of Freire and hooks' work is that teaching is a political act, and the
dynamics of power and oppression are reinforced through traditional education. As a teacher of
diverse learners, culturally inclusive teaching is central to my classroom. I bring in writings and
examples from multiple cultures, and encourage students to relate learning to their own cultural
viewpoints. For many of my classes, culture is a central element of the class, and I work to create
an affirming atmosphere where students value the cultures they bring. For example, I have
discussion questions and reflection papers that ask students to reflect on how their cultural values
have shaped them, and what strengths they have gained from their various cultures. I also
acknowledge that systems of oppression impact my students, giving space in discussions to talk
through microaggressions and stereotypes they have experienced. I also have reflection questions
asking students to reflect on stereotypes directed against them and biases that they possess, and
coping strategies for both.
As a teacher of speakers of English as a second language I am aware of the language that
I use and explain slang terms and colloquialisms when I use them. I also explain US American
cultural references that come up in the classroom. I am aware of the power dynamics that
develop in the classroom as well, and use my role as teacher and facilitator to call attention to
them as needed, and ensure that everyone is empowered to speak.
In addition, I model for students that they can bring their whole selves into the classroom
in the way I introduce myself at the beginning of the semester. I explain my background,
qualifications, motivations, values and goals as a teacher and in my life.

Experiential Learning
My assignments involve experiential learning: students interact with the world and reflect
on that learning. For example, in one intercultural activity students play a card game where they
cannot speak, the rules keep changing, and they do not know the new rules. This simulation of
new and unknown cultural environments usually elicits strong emotions in students, and by
reflecting on them students gain a stronger understanding of how to recognize and handle
emotions in intercultural transition.
I structure learning around the four aspects of Kolb’s experiential learning cycle.
Classroom activities move from active experimentation through activities, to reflective
observation and concrete experience in class discussion and reflection papers, to abstract
conceptualization in readings, lectures, and discussion. This allows students to take ownership of
their learning and see themselves as knowers, creating meaning from their own experiences.
Specific activities to encourage this are pair & share discussions, small group problem-solving
and case studies, games and simulations,1-minute paper quick-writes, and in-class quizzes like
Kahoot. My goal is to make the class as interactive as possible, with questions and activities

interspersed among the lecture so that students are always asked to apply and critically evaluate
what they are learning, rather than passively memorize. I firmly believe that active application is
the best way to learn and I emphasize application, analysis, and evaluation in my classes. I know
that I have taught effectively when students feel prepared and empowered to take ownership of
their experiences and push themselves outside their comfort zones.

Classroom Assessment
I believe assessment is important both for myself as the teacher to gauge my success and
adjust my teaching throughout the course, and for students to assess their learning and strategize
their study approaches accordingly. I assess learning using rubrics to ensure consistency. Criteria
I grade on are whether students fulfill the requirements of the assignment, and whether they have
thought critically and reflected deeply on the questions asked. Formative assessments include
reflection journals, group and individual presentations, and creative projects. I always have a
check-in midway through the semester to evaluate my own teaching and the class. Students can
anonymously express what they like so far and what they want more or less of, so I can adapt the
course accordingly and ensure we are co-constructing this course together.

Professional Development & Lifelong Learning

I focus on my own professional growth by attending conferences and workshops on
teaching, particularly on teaching diverse learners, reading books about teaching, and adapting to
feedback from my students and peers about various activities and assignments.
Based on my experience and interests, I feel prepared to teach university orientation
courses for international students, intercultural communication courses for students preparing to,
or just returning from, study abroad, and intercultural competency workshops for students, staff,
and faculty.