Six overarching components guide my teaching philosophy.
I ground my teaching in critical perspectives by focusing on the relationship between power and knowledge. Teaching inherently involves relational interactions across hierarchies associated with ability, race, gender, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status, colonization, and historical inequality. Hence,I employ a critical perspective by examining these hierarchies, valuing the knowledge that students bring, and cultivating an atmosphere that encourages students to make connections between course materials and lived experiences.
I use citation politics and student-centered pedagogy to engage diverse student populations in participatory learning. When developing a syllabus, I select readings from authors who represent the populations that are being studied. For example, if we are reading about autism, the authors we read are actually autistic. I cultivate participatory learning by asking students to co-create portions of our syllabus by selecting readings that connect with the course content and their interests. This activity shares power and make space for student-directed knowledge.
I follow principles of universal design and intentionally teach in a manner that includes visual, auditory, and kinesthetic learning opportunities. I understand that not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. Rather than viewing these differences as deficiencies, I value the diversity that learners bring to the classroom. I am mindful of how assessment techniques create barriers and I design courses that have multiple ways for students to demonstrate that they have achieved the intended learning outcome.
I view education as a public or social good. As a fundamental component of a democracy, education is necessary to create engaged citizens that contribute to society in a thoughtful and meaningful manner. Therefore, exceptional postsecondary education must be financially and geographically accessible to all students. I inhabit my values by choosing to teach at institutions that have open-enrollment policies, serve minoritized populations, or hold social justice as central to their mission.
I work towards anti-racist praxis. Not all bodyminds are treated equally and white scholars have dominated special education and disability studies. Therefore, I use my position as a white, queer woman to critique white supremacy and power structures. I cultivate syllabi with racially diverse readings and ask that students connect special education concepts to systemic racism.
I conceptualize teaching, research, and service as fundamentally connected activities that must be conducted with, and for the benefit of, communities. Teaching is a dynamic process and research plays an integral role by bringing new content into the curriculum and classroom. I use my research to foster innovations within my teaching. For example, my recent scholarship on disabled students’ definitions of success prompted me to adjust course guidelines to account for crip time. Further, as a disabled person I am well aware that teaching and research are conducted on minoritized communities, rather than in alignment with the problems articulated by those communities. Ableism is everyone’s responsibility, and disabled people should set the agenda for disability scholarship. Thus, I mentor disabled graduate students and collaborate with disabled communities to prioritize research topics that disabled people think are important rather than research topics that dominant institutions perceive as fundable.