Kindness and encouragement are core to my teaching philosophy. I strive to create safe spaces in my classrooms where students feel comfortable freely exchanging their ideas, regardless of their gender, race, language, ideology, or socioeconomic class. Positive reinforcement is crucial in this process, and I embed it in every aspect of my classes. By developing a sense of community in my classroom and by including content that resonates with students, I create a class culture that values deep learning, emphasizes individual expression, and empowers and emboldens students to express their thoughts openly and confidently.
My goal is to ensure that students’ courses emerge as a meaningful component of their learning experience at UC Davis. The attributes that I believe the very best teachers should possess are kindness, compassion, enthusiasm, dedication, humility, transparency, tenacity, and curiosity.
We must be kind to our students because I believe it is our responsibility to instill confidence in them. Responding to their questions and observations with kindness boosts their confidence and encourages them to speak up more frequently. We must be compassionate because we never know what our students are going through; sometimes, they are dealing with really heavy issues so we must be patient and gentle with them. We must be enthusiastic about our academic subjects. When we are excited, our students are excited. We must be dedicated to our students’ learning and always prioritize their needs. They look to us for guidance and support, so we have to make ourselves available to them, regardless of what we might be experiencing in our own lives.
We must always be humble. We have a responsibility to validate ideas, even if they may appear to be at odds with our own. We must be transparent about our expectations and forthcoming about the things we do not know. We must be tenacious in our teaching; if something is not working, it is incumbent on us to find a solution. Finally, we must always remain curious. I continue to learn from students every quarter, and I let them know that I am genuinely interested and curious about their opinions.
Our students are brilliant; as an educator, you just have to provide an opportunity for them to reach their full potential. We must facilitate dialogue, not get in the way of our students’ learning, be deliberate in the way we structure our courses and deliver our content, never be punitive in our teaching and grading, and encourage and affirm our students at every turn. The results speak for themselves.