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Marian’s Teaching Philosophy, Part 1: Creating a Safe & Inclusive Learning Environment

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Decorative sign reading "bully free zone"

My coursework at Fresno State laid the foundation of my teaching philosophy. Through years of experience and refinement, my philosophy includes six components: creating a safe environment; we are all learners; content and curriculum expertise; education across the curriculum; multimodality teaching style; and reflection and assessment. Today I’ll address my first component.

The foundation of my philosophy is creating a safe and inclusive learning environment. If learners don’t feel safe and included, whatever I do as an instructor or speaker won’t matter.

Since students’ socioeconomic, cultural, age, educational, and ethnic backgrounds comprise a dramatic impact on their ability to learn, I generate a classroom environment that encourages individual differences by incorporating diversity and awareness whenever possible.

Creating a safe environment requires consistently role modeling and reinforcing the class guidelines: one person talks at a time and while we don’t have to agree with one another, we must demonstrate respect. I build students’ confidence by motivating and encouraging them while providing support skills, such as study and exam tips, resources, announcing workshops, and writing hints all within the course delivery.

As a college professor, I have my own office. An open office door policy encourages students to come in for personal and/or academic reasons. When I’m in my office, a steady stream of students comes by. Sometimes they let me know they found a job, lost a job or need a job.

Other times relationship crises bring tears. Unplanned pregnancies are a frequent topic. Sometimes students pop in to say hi and encourage me. Interestingly, most do not come by for academic support. No matter what the reason, my office is a happening place where I trust I’m making a difference in the lives of my students.

Image Source: Creative Commons Bully Free Zone [stockpholio.com]

  • Are you relieved when certain students are absent?
  • Do you have students who “push your buttons”?
  • Do you find yourself butting heads with the same students day-after-day?

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