co-taught with Dr. Alec Lindsay
Successful teaching is the art of leading students on an exciting journey of discovery to gain new skills, knowledge, and understanding through constructive and creative engagement within and beyond the classroom. I share my passion for conservation ecology with diverse students through synergistic research, mentoring, teaching and extension activities. My priorities are to: (1) create intellectually challenging, cooperative and inclusive learning environments to meet the needs of diverse students, (2) foster student engagement using innovative teaching techniques and flexible mentoring strategies, (3) provide timely formative and summative assessments of student work, and (4) hold students to a high-level of expectation regarding course content proficiency and professionalism.
First, I begin each semester by sharing my personal statement on diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education with my students, which I include at the top of my syllabi. Promoting diversity and cultural competency in my classrooms creates greater feelings of inclusion for all students and leads to the success of students with a broader range of backgrounds. Second, I empower students in their learning process using myriad mentoring strategies and innovative teaching techniques (e.g., Universal Design for Learning). I often blend elements of traditional lecture, guided-inquiry, i>clicker polling, problem-based and solution-oriented activities, peer-to-peer teaching, field-based observations, data collection and visualization, and self-evaluation, which immerses students in the subject matter and helps to build community within and beyond my classroom. Third, I provide constructive formative and summative assessments of all student work. Whether through informal/formal discussions with students during class activities, written assignment evaluations, iterative feedback during semester-long projects, or through verbal engagement during extension activities, constantly assessing what students know and evaluating their ability to communicate that knowledge effectively are important for student development. Additionally, I routinely assess my effectiveness as a teacher and mentor through reflective practice and by soliciting student feedback, ensuring my students and I are achieving our shared learning goals. Lastly, I hold my students to a high level of expectation regarding course content proficiency and professionalism. By accepting the responsibility of teaching, I enter into a professional relationship with my students that requires their level best performance and mine as well. Thus, every assignment, class activity and project has a deliberate meaning, allowing students to connect their growing skills, knowledge, and understanding to real-world issues of conservation concern, facilitating their personal and professional development as conscientious global citizens.
No matter the course, whether fostering student ecological knowledge and conservation capacity in the classroom, field or lab, every instructional experience teaches me more about engaging diverse students, reaffirming teaching as integral aspect of my career.