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Kneeling Protestors

James Baldwin

"It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have."

Scheduled Teaching

Oregon State University

Fall 2021

Psychology of Race and Racism

Introduces psychological theories and concepts pertaining to different racial groups in the United States. Explores the history of racism in the U.S. and its psychological effect on racial identity and the intersections of race, ethnicity, sex, gender identity, social class, and nationality. Develops cultural competence to prepare students to live and work with individuals from diverse socio-cultural backgrounds.

Teaching Philosophy

Community, Rapport, & Inclusivity

It was not until graduate school that I had a professor that looked like me. The initial excitement of finally seeing myself reflected in someone who was in a position to educate others was gradually replaced by a sense of awe for the way in which my professor effectively translated her Latinx identity into pedagogy. It was by her example that I began shaping my own identity and core values as an instructor. I view interdependence and student-centered techniques as the cornerstones of my teaching philosophy. Creating learning environments where the instructor genuinely cares for their students’ well-being and respects their identities as diverse human beings transforms traditional learning experiences into moments of personal growth. I achieve such learning environments through three key values: community, rapport building, and inclusivity.

Transforming the classroom into a community develops a sense of solidarity amongst the students. Solidarity is important in the classroom because it bonds students together and turns the classroom into a safe learning environment. Fostering these environments creates trust amongst the students and me, the instructor, where they hold each other accountable for the classwork and feel comfortable giving honest feedback to me on the course. This all creates a community in the classroom where we all depend on each other to create an optimal learning environment based on trust and open communication.

A big part of maintaining a community is building rapport with students. This is essential in order to have engaging conversations and discussions over the course material. Furthermore, good rapport with the students is essential in building trust in the classroom, which lets them know I care about their learning and their general well-being. I recognize that if students are struggling outside of class they will not excel in the classroom. So, I make it a point in my class to check-in with my students at various points in the semester to see how they are doing unrelated to the course and give them appropriate resources to tend to their well-being. In having students feel comfortable with me, I get crucial and honest feedback from them about where I can improve their experience in my course. On top of honest feedback, rapport building with students also helps me tailor my lectures and activities to their specific interests and needs—mainly the applicability of the subject material to their life outside the classroom.

Inclusivity in my classroom is founded on the principles of social justice, those of equity and representation, and is important to me because I can use my identity to inform and broaden my student’s learning experience. Equity in my courses means recognizing not all students learn in the same way—some may grasp concepts faster than others, and some students fall behind—and striving to ensure every student has a chance for success. Representation in my courses means you too get to see yourself in the subject material. This has taken many forms throughout my courses, broadly through lectures on racial, ethnic, and sexual identity development and more specifically through guest lectures from psychologists of underrepresented backgrounds (e.g., disability research, forensic psychology). I have witnessed how just my presence in the classroom has given students hope to pursue careers in higher education, and that, to me, is demonstrative of why inclusivity in the classroom is vital.

I care about my students and I aim to make courses an experience that goes beyond the subject material. In creating learning environments that emphasize student’s needs, I have developed a passion for teaching that focuses on students. My hope as an instructor is that my students get to see parts of themselves in me, just as I did with mine, and that will encourage them to do the same for future generations.

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