“Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.”

William Butler Yeats

My role as an educator is to empower my students, helping them to start and find the fire within themselves with which they can light the world. For this reason, my teaching philosophy is student-centered. My goal is to guide students in their development of the skills necessary to reach their fullest potential, providing them with the opportunity and encouragement to become lifelong learners both within and beyond the Humanities classroom.

My philosophy is built upon social-constructivist educational theory, focused on an inquiry-based classroom that fosters critical thinking and encourages personal engagement with the material. When students are encouraged to engage with questions of relevance and act with authority as learners within a community of learning, they develop authentic connection with the learning process and an intrinsic motivation which prepares them for success.

My classroom functions as a student-centered learning community built around collaborative student-led and student-choice activities. This ensures that students are at the center of our work together, that they have freedom to engage with it in ways that are most useful and meaningful to them, and that they are socially-constructing their knowledge as we move through the course as a learning community. I employ multiple discussion models that center the students in their exploration of the material, from Harkness seminars to jigsaw and fishbowl discussions. In addition, student-choice opportunities in both formative and summative assessments continue to drive this student-centered classroom community and help students to value the work they are being asked to create.

My students are citizens of a world in which texts vary from school textbooks to text messages to tik-toks and video games. Supporting my students in the development of 21st century literacy skills means helping students build a literacy that can engage this variety of texts, helping them become critical audiences of video games and political ads just as they are of poems and novels. From incorporating the video game Walden: The Game into a unit on nature in Romanticism or enabling creative writing students to combine drama and nonfiction towards the creation of their own podcast, the study and production of digital texts has an important place in my classroom.

Student-centered at its core, my teaching philosophy focuses on helping students to uncover what is meaningful to them, what helps them grow, while I help them to build the skills and knowledge that will best serve them in their futures. Participating in student-centered, constructivist classrooms has led me to strongly believe that the relationship between teaching and learning is perhaps at its most powerful when the lines between the two are most thoroughly blurred: everyone in the room is a teacher, everyone in the room is a learner, and the possibilities are endless.