Teaching Philosophy

As a young woman, my Aleut community, and especially my grandmother, taught me what would become the central tenets of my scholarship, including responsibility, relationship, reciprocity, collaboration, humility, and reflection.  These commitments are woven through my teaching, research, and writing.

My philosophy of teaching is defined by my commitment to thoughtful, relevant, engaged pedagogy; my commitment to writing as a way of knowing; and my commitment to rigorous interdisciplinary scholarship.  My teaching is inspired by the work of Paulo Freire, Myles Horton, Audre Lorde, and bell hooks. Through their writings, these authors have mentored me in the importance of narrative, situatedness, generosity, and attentive writing and listening in learning.  My teaching is also inspired by critical works by Gloria Anzaldua, Gerald Vizenor, Beatrice Medicine, and Vine Deloria.  These authors have encouraged me to engage in teaching that is marked by a critical interrogation of oppression, and the promotion of different ways of knowing that have persisted in diverse communities.  I operate within an anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-misogynist pedagogy, holding space for multiple identities and multiple abilities and languages.  I do this with a lot of care, but also with an underlying firmness.

As a participatory action researcher and Indigenous scholar, my teaching, research, and scholarly writing are interconnected.  Each reflects a collaborative spirit of co-constructing knowledge.  I know that students come to the classroom with multiple, complicated histories with writing and learning. Both the classroom and the course readings and assignments need to be big enough to meet students where they are, but also complex enough to motivate students to try on new approaches, new words, new interpretations, new meanings.  I try to create my courses to demonstrate a transparency of practice—often engaging in meta-conversations with students about why a particular decision or activity or reading at a particular time.  I do this so that students can participate in the rationale of the course, and I think that this is especially appealing to students engaging in individualized study.

In my classes I use multiple modes of learning in different combinations of individual, small group, and large group work.  I use online platforms such as Blackboard  to create an interactive website for a course, and also engage students in discussions that run the length of the course.  I assign a main list of readings, with many additional readings that students can read based on their preferences, needs, and their own goals for the course.  I have acquired training in developing rich online and hybrid learning environments.  Online learning platforms can extend the work of undergraduate and graduate classrooms in ways that meet the needs of diverse learners.

As a teacher, I am passionately curious about theory, with wide and deep interest in Indigenous theory, critical race theory, queer theory, feminist theory, and theories of participation, to name just a handful from an always growing list.  I apply this passion and these theories to the discourse of civic engagement in order to anchor and extend it, but perhaps more importantly, to understand the relationships between civic engagement and lived lives, between politics and power, and philosophy and possibility.  For example, I have created curriculum for undergraduate students on the intimate links between neoliberal ideology and Indigenous frameworks of dispossession, forced removal, and erasure.

In the classroom, I always work to open up closed or shrinking spaces of conversation, to push students to ask difficult questions of themselves and society.  My approach is to hold very high expectations, but also be a soft place to land when students try on new and challenging ideas.

Comments are closed.