Teaching is an art, like learning, that must be deliberately practiced. I strive to empower my students to be engaged learners, independent thinkers, and socially/emotionally conscious individuals. In order to engage in learning we first have to ignite a student’s intrinsic motivation. This starts by nurturing their natural inclination to explore and ask questions. As a teacher, I create culturally responsive, developmentally appropriate, interdisciplinary challenges in a safe space where students can cultivate curiosity, creativity and critical thinking.
Cultivating joy, wonder and possibility
Exploring internal and external landscapes
Scaffolding a culture of dialog
Normalizing risks, questions and diverse ideas
Creating relevant and responsive curriculum
Celebrating unique ways of knowing
Encouraging creative problem solving
Integrating the arts
Creatively shaping curriculum to students
Co-creating with students and teachers
Fostering safe spaces that encourage risks
Addressing real, relevant issues
Developing empathy and compassion
Engaging in science and learning for a purpose
Assessing cross-disciplinary competency
Preparing students to address complex problems in communities made up of diverse stories.
Deconstructing Racial Stereotyping and Facilitating Reconciliation.
A Story from the Field:
Through designing a flexible curriculum that was responsive to student needs, held high standards, allowed for individualized attention, a safe space, and the freedom to explore and learn from their peers, we were able to crate a positive cross-cultural experience for all students.
I had the privilege of working with a group of students at IslandWood that were faced with an incredible challenge during their stay. My team was one of two teams of 5th graders from a small school in Seattle. These students had been pulled from their other schools because they were several grades below their peers and from underserved populations in the community. Their educational road had not been easy.
The week they came to IslandWood they happened to be the only 16 students of color out of 150 visiting that week. From day one there were tensions with other groups of white students. After a student from the other schools flipped off students from my school, they were harboring a lot of fear, anger and mistrust towards all the students from other schools. They were convinced that all the other students hated them, were talking about them and were all racist. This was a very real and oppressive experience for my students and presented a weeklong challenge for myself, the students and their teacher who was my chaperone.
There were many tough conversations between myself and the students throughout the week, in attempt to open up a dialog. By day three I decided my team might benefit from an opportunity to work along side groups from the different schools to break down the stereotypes being built with both groups. My peers were very supportive. We started with an impromptu conversation on the trail where we joined two group together to look at and learn about a salamander. There was limited engagement from the students but no negativity or anger. Our next challenge was going to be a joint investigation at the Harbor where my students would be in small groups up with students from another school while we helped each other conduct an investigation. Before we could even get to the harbor myself and their teacher had to interrupt a disrespectful interaction between our group and another. After a 45min discussion where the students could to vent, express and reflect upon their experience in a safe-space, that kept everyone accountable but also allowed for everyone's voices to be heard, we were ready to join the investigation at the harbor.
The investigation with the other team was very structured but flowed smoothly. We made it very clear what the expectations of teamwork looked like. My students had experience with investigations and were able to help the other group while the other group had arrived at the beach first and knew the space. I watched my students engage with other students as peers, reach out hands to students different then themselves and just be kids exploring the wonders of the ocean. Nature has a wonderful way of bringing everyone together, balancing the experience, around a shared experience.
I was not sure the impact this experience might have had on my students and I was certainly surprised when I received my evaluations from the students at the end of the week. Many of the students listed the harbor as their favorite experience of the week. One student who had been vocally opposed to and physically closed off towards the other students in the beginning of the week brought me to tears when I read that her favorite part of the week was, "Going to the harbor and talking to Hunter," a student from another team.