My experience as an educational technologist and psychologist and a computer scientist undergirds my practice of giving students tangible opportunities to humanize individuals’ stories by questioning the status quo and making meaningful connections to political, social, and cultural issues locally and globally. Through my teaching, I aim to create an environment whereby students and teachers both assume responsibility for learning and for cultivating an inclusive, equitable class community. This culture facilitates open dialogue on how people’s stories have often been marginalized and overshadowed by white-male dominated narratives in learning and teaching across different disciplines. In my teaching, I include critical perspectives that question how power structures shape our society and culture and raise important questions on racism and sexism nationally and internationally.
As an educator, my teaching philosophy is deeply rooted in my experiences and identity as a queer, immigrant, woman of color and my perspectives on education. My epistemological and ontological stances are informed by my passion for science as a powerful tool of meaning making, coding and computing as influential technological agents of change, and an understanding of sociocultural nature of learning. In my teaching, I value perspectives on teaching and learning that draw on from interdisciplinary, humanistic, and sociocultural ways of meaning making.
In the past few years, I have taught pre-service teachers in elementary and secondary education foundational undergraduate courses on “Reflections on Learning”–on learning theories and educational psychology. Specifically, I have taken transdisciplinary and critical perspectives to implement innovative ways of using technology and social media to address issues of access, identity, and asymmetry of power and propose tangible solutions for them. In my teaching, I constantly engage with my students to critically question the status quo and examine issues of race and gender that create inequity in the society that directly impacts the community that they teach in. Furthermore, I stress my students to reflect on the importance of understanding the local community practices that are intricately woven into the lives of their students and how these practices might urge them to reconsider their teaching approach in their classroom. A common thread throughout my teaching is to urge students to recognize how and why intersecting race with gender and social class promotes distinct questions of self-image, oppression, and technological potential that are rooted in culturally deficit beliefs and move beyond intragroup differences.
Having taught several courses on “Teaching and Learning” with and about technology use in K12 classrooms, I have worked with pre-service and in-service teachers to break disciplinary boundaries of math and science through an understanding of Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles, importance of Media and Information Literacy (MIL), and coding as a necessary 21st century skill. Dealing with the daily challenges of catering to students from diverse backgrounds and the scarcity of resources in urban and rural settings, I work with teachers to find creative and novel ways of using technology in effective ways to engage students with the content in order to make their students critical contributing global citizens. Furthermore, my approach in teaching a graduate-level course on – Approaches to Educational Research – was to prepare in-service and pre-service teachers to be critical and conscious consumers and producers of educational research that is applicable to practice. In teaching this course, I nurtured a culture of deep reflection and inquiry skills and tried to deepen the connections teachers make between their learning and professional practice.
Although I have taught several courses, the one that remains tethered to my experiences as a scholar and teacher is ‘Creativity in Teaching and Learning’. What makes my experience unique is my active engagement with the curriculum design of the course that helped teachers critically analyze and support creativity in multiple contexts by utilizing technological tools. The course is designed around an in-depth assignment (including relevant readings on creativity in teaching and learning) that provides teachers the opportunity to explore creativity through critical lenses by considering the constraints of society and systems when thinking about, understanding, and implementing creativity in learning spaces. This unique blend of creativity in learning and teaching with technology provides teachers the necessary space and time to explore how they can meaningfully tie the experiences of their diverse students into their creative lesson plans.
In order to foster students’ learning and appreciation of how to effectively use technology and learning theories for teaching, I position myself as a conversation facilitator and center class around discussion activities. This approach ensures that students are empowered to take ownership of their intellectual development, rather than be passive listeners. By maintaining high expectations for class engagement, students rise to the challenge and improve the motivational, learning management, and critical skills necessary for their active learning. Organizing classes in this manner also tasks students with maintaining an inclusive environment. We thus collectively learn to respectfully discuss our interpretations of behavioral, cognitive, and sociocultural learning theories as we explore novel ways of implementing these theories through effective use of technology in the classroom. During my teaching, students actively engage in discussions through the Desire2Learn learning management software and through in-class multimedia activities that promote intellectual exchange of ideas within peers and between teacher and students. The combination of the writing assignments and discussion approach thus reinforces students’ engagement and capacity to respectfully articulate arguments on issues of access, identity, equity, and diversity in educational psychology and technology.
Tied together these range of experiences shows a deeply culturally inclusive, gender-sensitive, and humanistic approach to teaching that is rooted in my professional and personal experiences across multiple learning contexts, disciplines, settings, and cultures. Above all, my role as an educator is to step up to empower students—with agency, knowledge, skills—and then to step back to let them find their own way to become critical teachers and scholars.