Teaching Statements

Teaching Philosophy Statement

My teaching philosophy is rooted in how my teachers, mentors, and role models from every area of my life have taught and guided me. While at every level of education there is an expectation of high performance, the most transformative and lasting learning experiences that I have had stem from genuine internal curiosity. This love of learning is something that was nurtured in me by my teachers, inspired by their own passion for subjects, and is something that I am to replicate as an educator.

In my own experience, curiosity is sparked through connection to a subject. Once it is clear how a lesson is connected in a tangible way to a student’s life, the “why” behind the time and attention necessary to understand the lesson is revealed and that personal investment will feel worthwhile. Ultimately, the choice to engage with the material is in the hands of each member of a classroom community individually. Making obvious the connection between the material and each individual encourages students to engage. I find the connections between the material I teach and our everyday lives exciting and personally motivating. My own enthusiasm provides an invitation for students to engage with the material in the same way. Student engagement extends beyond engagement with content that I have decided to explore - when appropriate, students have agency over special topics to be covered. This makes the course material individually meaningful and encourages buy-in.

Technical science classes utilize almost exclusively the delivery of technical theory paired with practice problems. While both of these elements are absolutely essential for mastery of the subject matter that I teach, I also incorporate more interdisciplinary information such as the relevant history and current state of the field, as well as connections to other relevant courses that the students might be taking. This not only delivers a more well-rounded understanding of the relevant field as a whole, it increases course accessibility by providing additional avenues for remembering information. Some students might remember the information as it is ordered in the textbook – others might benefit from organizing information chronologically, or associating theories with the relevant scientists. 

I view it as my role to provide the important information for a course in as many ways as possible to serve all of my students and teach them how they need to learn, not how I think they should learn. To facilitate this, in addition to the inclusion of interdisciplinary elements, I prioritize sharing information through multiple means. This includes but is not limited to the use of metaphor and real-world examples when lecturing, encouraging group discussion both in and out of class, providing written resources to complement lectures, and prioritizing my out of class availability for one on one assistance. One complicating factor of some physical sciences is the fact that what we are talking about is largely invisible. While understanding a ball rolling down a hill is intuitive because of our lived experiences, the movement of electrons in a battery is not nearly as familiar. Metaphor and comparison to visible, familiar phenomena help my own understanding of complicated ideas and I rely on this strategy when introducing new theories. Of course, not every comparison I draw will be accessible. It is therefore imperative that I create an environment where every member of the classroom environment is sharing ideas and giving feedback continually. I encourage this discussion in class through clicker quizzes, the incorporation of strategies such as Think-Pair-Share, and the reiteration of the goal being engagement with ideas, rather than right answers. Out of class, group work is encouraged on homework assignments as this more accurately reflects what it is like to work as a scientist and allows for additional opportunities for learning from peers. The other big piece of making information accessible is making my time accessible. Some students may want or need more individualized explanations so we can work together to find how the information needs to be presented. 

I view myself as a student and an educator. I learn from my students as they learn from me. My teaching in and out of the classroom is and should be constantly evolving to better serve my students.

Diversity Equity & Inclusion Statement

I would like to first recognize that as an instructor, I am not the expert on everything in the classroom. My experiences are only one way of moving through the world - I will not and cannot be the expert on any other experience. Therefore, my experiences and perspectives on the subject I teach can’t be the only one presented. It is important to me to highlight the contributions of women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ scientists both now and throughout history. In practice, this looks like reading about historical contributions that have been overlooked or misattributed, understanding the current contributors to the field, and making real-life connections through seminars, lectures, and other events given by women, BIPOC, and LGBTQ+ scientists.

Diversity of perspective is not only something that should be brought in through formal curricula. I value the diversity that is inherently present in any classroom. My own experiences in education have been shaped by the intersection of my race, class, and disability. My childhood as a white middle class American and educational background in high-quality public schools is a privileged one. I have experienced firsthand how transformative education can be. On the other hand, I also understand from personal experience what it is like to engage with the education system with an undiagnosed learning disability. Acknowledging diversity of learning experience makes me better equipped to adapt lessons and present information in new ways to better reach a wider variety of learners. Principles of universal design, such as intentional use of scaffolding and the inclusion of multiple format options for assignments where possible, benefit all students and make the classroom more accessible. Additionally, just as my identity and experiences enrich the classroom environment, so do all of the student’s backgrounds. By fostering an open, curious environment, everybody can be more authentically themselves, and will contribute more fully to the collective learning experience.