Statement and Philosophy
In 2015, I developed my first teaching dossier where my statement and philosophy long-winded, focusing on self-inquiry and experiential learning. While I still believe in the former, experiential learning in geography, and other environment-based disciplines, is not always inclusive nor is it considered universal design. Through introspection, continued learning from mentors, and training, my teaching statement has dramatically changed and become rather simple. My teaching statement is:
A simple verb that means so much to me as a person. It serves as a reminder to keep a growth mindset when teaching or learning and to never consider my development as an instructor complete. While the statement is, by design, unachievable, I have developed several other sub-statements to help retain focus on the larger objective of growing:
As a teacher, I…
- grow to meet my students needs as learners from course-to-course and class-to-class;
- reflect on feedback and grow my teaching practices accordingly;
- acknowledge my position of power and diverse perspectives;
- foster a safe and inclusive environment through my position of power;
- recognize that my students are individuals with lives outside of the classroom;
- encourage self-inquiry and learning outcomes to meet student interests and course needs;
- own my mistakes and take responsibility to do better.
Through formative assessment and self-reflection of both myself as an instructor and students, I am able to respond to student needs and interests quickly and efficiently.
Bridge Glacier field camp in 2015 for GEOG 477 where we took 12 students to a remote location to conduct original research (Photo: Bryan Mood).
The best teachers I have had the pleasure to be associated with are Drs Dan Smith and Colin Laroque. Both are well known for their award-winning experiential learning methods with undergraduate students. The primary reason that I loved learning from both professors is that they provide opportunities to follow one’s passions. Dan and Colin both hold annual field schools at Glacier and Jasper national parks, respectively, where students are encouraged to ask questions about their interests. These questions often result in one-on-one, philosophical conversations leading to student research projects that they pursue with a deep enthusiasm. During my first field school at Jasper National Park, a classmate and I asked Colin “How much ice used to be in the Saskatchewan Glacier Valley?” while looking down at it atop Parker’s Ridge. His response was simple, “I don’t know, let’s find out.” He challenged and compelled me to discover the answer to my question. In the end, I answered the question and presented my findings at several academic conferences, and later submitted those results in a manuscript to a scientific journal.
Lunch and lecture in Revelstoke National Park, BC in 2016 (Photo: Bryan Mood).
Expectations from Dan and Colin are always high, which instills a sense of respect from students. Based in large part on my experiences, my teaching priorities are to: define challenging, yet appropriate, expectations for each unique student group (per course); give students a reason to want to meet those expectations; and, allow them to delve further into their passions. By challenging my students at an academic level, they have risen to the occasion and enjoyed their learning experience. I maintain realistic, but challenging, expectations for students while conveying confidence in their abilities to surpass expectations.
Jade Ryan (UVic's GEOG 477 2016) collecting a tree-ring core (Photo: Bryan Mood).