Statement of Teaching Philosophy

Course Takeaway

We begin to wind down our class. At the start, I didn't know what to expect. I wasn’t nervous as much as I was skeptical. I wasn’t afraid to change gears if I had to. I did wonder, though, Did my bike have more than one gear? Turns out it did. This class inspired me. It affected the way I think about the way I teach. For that I am grateful.

At the end of each term, I ask students to write a Course Takeaway. I give them a prompt, Has your relationship with art changed since you took the class? It’s an open-ended question. Students can refer to the syllabus. The course material. Class structure. My performance. I’ll do the same thing here.

Has your relationship to teaching changed since you took this class? Yes, it did. I came a long way in a short time. I deliberated on all parts of my teaching. I had never done that before. I just taught. I became aware of things I didn't know that I didn't know.

Presence. I’m not a neutral conduit of material. A teller in the educational banking system. No, I'm a physical, intellectual, and emotional member of this class. Like my students. Active, not passive. Reading verbal and non-verbal cues for what we need to do at any one time. Adapting when I need to.

With presence comes focus. Teaching is not material taught and grades given. It’s acknowledgement, inspiration, and guidance. Students’ dreams and success, as per the Universal Design for Learning. These are what we work with and for. What we encourage. You can’t quantify dreams and success. They're individual and relative. You can feel them, though.

With focus comes spontaneity. Out of deliberation comes spontaneity. We need structure in our curriculum. Benchmarks, endpoints, criteria. We also need agility. (Thanks to Glenn DeVoogd for his post on the agile curriculum and for comments on this Takeaway). Don’t carve things in stone. Be flexible with course material and its enactment. Be sensitive to adapt as circumstances dictate.

With spontaneity comes listening. Listening instills mutual respect, as we learned in this class. Its application is universal. Not just in this class.

With listening comes prioritizing. We teach with students, not to and for. So too do we work with technology, not to and for.

With prioritizing comes celebration. The biggest thing I learned in this class was, We’re all in this together! That was my biggest surprise. We’re not alone. We share the same concerns. We can learn from one another. Let’s celebrate that!

Speaking of celebration, an adage proved true. When the student is ready, the teacher will appear. I must have been ready for Critical Digital Pedagogy. Out of nowhere, Annemarie Perez’ class announcement appeared. I’ve written before about my frustration with theory. In conversation with her, in and out of class, I understood the importance of theory. Theory makes sense of things that otherwise confuse. Thanks, Annemarie!

The presence, focus, spontaneity, listening, prioritizing, and celebration I experienced led to a coming together. Our class created a space of sacred time. Like-minded colleagues could open up and share their experiences without judgment. This faculty learning community helped me a lot. I will model my classes on its structure, content, and sharing.

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Glenn DeVoogd

Wow, I love this post James! I love the presence, focus, spontaneity, agility, listening, and especially celebration. I would also add Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and teaching 'with' not just 'to' and 'for.' Especially with the new technology, we need to constantly think about the potential uses of technology for improved pedagogy. It makes class a lot more fun and as my hockey friend says, "choose fun."

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