My philosophy for teaching is to engage students in the process of learning in multiple ways by planting seeds to reach all learners but also to maximize the learning of all students. I am thoughtful about the curriculum I create, and each lesson that allows me to meet the goals of the curriculum. When I have difficult students or difficult moments in the classroom, remembering how thoughtful I have been about creating a curriculum that honors multiple modes of learning gives me the space to be open to/and implement change without changing my entire syllabus when students may not fully grasp where we are headed but also the flexibility to learn new methods, to change directions and to stay well informed. Good teachers, take the time to understand students, the epistemological and disciplinary goals and constraints and the conditions that allow students to flourish or fail, such as their mental health, interests, and familial issues to name a few.
As a Black Caribbean woman, my identities impact how I am read/taken up and responded to in the classroom and has a direct relationship to my scholarship. Mel Michelle Lewis in her article, “Body of Knowledge: Black Queer Feminist Pedagogy, Praxis, and Embodied Text,” states, “I teach what I am, I am what I teach, an intersectionality, an interdisciplinarity, a complex epistemology, and pedagogical location. I live and perform my multiple social identities, both visible and invisible, and teach both through institutional knowledge and my own ‘embodied text.’ As I teach through these embodiments, it has become apparent that the methods through which we teach women’s studies must be intersectional and interdisciplinary, while recognizing the body as a site of learning and knowledge” (Lewis 49).
I quote her at length because she captures beautifully how I have come to my philosophical framing. Although my discipline is not women’s students, education is also an interdisciplinary field and I pull from a number of disciplines including women’s studies, Africana studies and American studies to situate the work I do in education as a discipline. This makes me a transdisciplinary teacher and researcher. I pause here to elucidate the difference between transdisciplinary and interdisciplinary teachers and scholars. Interdisciplinary scholars integrate disciplinary theories and frames into the practices of a particular discipline. Transdisciplinary teachers and scholars translate, recreate and craft new methods and theories in particular disciplines. My embodied knowledge and my transdisciplinary approach to teaching and research allows me a dynamic pedagogical approach to the craft of teaching.