The classroom is a playground that prepares students to engage thoughtfully in their social worlds, as they challenge their conceptions of how the world works. I encourage my students to take ownership of their education and feel connected to both the materials and to one another. For me, naming the classroom as a community experience is extremely important, as it allows students to become aware of the collective labor necessary to do justice to one another as well as the content we are discussing. Additionally, my experiences working in nontraditional K-12 educational settings, such as the Chicago Freedom School, impacts the way I work with undergraduate students, as I frequently make use of popular education models to structure conversation in the classroom.
I assign a variety of texts and genres–both canonical and understudied works–such that students think within a matrix of critical thought rather than in binaries and where they can use their own experience/reactions/emotions as a bridge to critical analysis.
Ultimately, teaching remains a learning experience. I learn to be flexible in my approach, to deal with the unique chemistry of any given class, and to be attuned to the varied learning strategies students need. Teaching is also a way for me learn my students’ stories while introducing them to other people’s stories as well. Through my devotion and dedication to my students and storytelling I hope to make education more meaningful and impactful for everyone who enters my classroom.