TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

As a teacher-scholar-community advocate, each of my courses, in educational settings, adopt an interdisciplinary approach. I have worked with students of varying ages, as a K-12 teacher for the past decade and Course instructor at University of Toronto for almost three years. Creating a safe environment is paramount to my pedagogical practice. I self-identify as an Indo-Caribbean Canadian woman. I recognize my positionality places me in a hierarchy where my acquired knowledge, skills, and authority are constantly questioned and challenged. The foundation of my pedagogy lies within intersectionality combined with critical race and feminist theory. My goal in teaching is to raise critical consciousness of how different axes of oppression are implicated in ideologies, narratives, and epistemological knowledge production.

    

I am guided by the canonical works of Critical Race scholars and feminist of colour that have instilled the importance of an interdisciplinary approach, collaborative learning, social justice, and civil responsibility within an equity framework including Sara Ahmed, M. Jacki Alexander, Dionne Brand, Kimberlé Crenshaw, Patricia Hill Collins, George Dei, Audre Lorde, Carl James, Christina Sharpe, Alissa Trotz, and Rinaldo Walcott. I incorporate differentiated instruction within my teaching practices. In the early stages of my course ‘Digital Activism, Sport and Social Movements’, I introduce several tools to enhance the learning environment, including interactive and innovative methods for the students to learn more about themselves, their teacher, and peers. For example, the first assignment is a reflection where students to create a prose piece remembering the first time they were exposed to a social movement or protest. The objective is for them to connect their memory to a related reading to frame their understanding of the event. Reflexivity is a valued tenet embedded throughout my course syllabi.

 

In combination with reflexive practices, social responsibility practices are also a critical part of my course design. In my course ‘Ethics and Power in Kinesiology, Health and Physical Education’, students had to create a blog post that integrated a current event and relevant news sources to establish a position on a polarizing topic related to ethical dilemmas. Providing students with choice and flexibility with their assignments has contributed to increased engagement with presented material. Another activity in the class was to develop a podcast based on a weekly reading of their choice. The students were able to express themselves with methods that did not include writing but rather oration. The uniqueness of their work was demonstrated through their evaluation of concepts mixed with a technical production.

 

In the last eighteen months, I have also adjusted to my students’ needs during the COVID pandemic.  Students feel overwhelmed and I have continued to layer into my instruction empathy, compassion, and added flexibility for assignments. Students have been forthcoming in their struggles during this past year and a half and several modifications, especially transitioning to online, was simultaneously inclusive and alienating. Piloting various technologies, such as Padlet, Word Press, and Anchor, in a few courses has crafted my ability to effectively filter and select efficient tools to better assess students’ learning and discern successful pedagogies through this new pandemic season. Listening to students’ feedback has been critical to the success of the courses and their continued engagement.

    

I am deeply committed to linking relevant social justice movements and current events in my pedagogical practice. My optimism lies within students’ ability to see more than the issues they face and recognize that collective efforts and solidarities serve to benefit us all. By asking students to make connections across ideas, methods, modes, and communities, my aim as a teacher-scholar-community advocate is to honour the experiences of students while affording them the opportunity to enrich their academic, professional, and civic selves. This means teaching so that students can challenge the dominant narratives and material realities for misrepresented and historically underserved communities—perhaps communities of which they are a part of— through discursive exchanges and critical engagement that assert non-dominant interpretations. 

The process of empowerment cannot be simplistically defined in accordance with our own particular class interests. We must learn to lift as we climb.
-Angela Davis