I have taught in university classrooms and studios, high school classrooms, and even swimming pools, all while working with a wide variety of student populations. In all of these teaching environments I strive to promote a sense of community in the learning space. Community and individual comfort blooms during activities, like peer reviews and critiques. When students feel comfortable with one another and work together, it gives me the opportunity to check-in with each student individually. It is my job as the instructor to ensure that all students understand and are comfortable with the concepts being demonstrated. I am committed to making a class where critiques and peer reviews are constructive and every student is an active participant in building our classroom community. The feeling of community also promotes an atmosphere open to discussion and critique, which push students to try new ideas or expand on their current understanding of the material.
In my courses, I am not only teaching and demonstrating skills but I am working with students to create a new curiosity for learning. I see the classroom as a collaborative place for investigation, whether that is material based, process based, or pedagogical. I tell my students that I am a resource for them during the course. Not only do I present the problems for students to investigate and solve with every assignment, I am also their resource in the classroom for my personal knowledge and research skills. If I do not know the answer, myself and the students will find out together. This allows for the demonstration of investigative research strategies. I always encourage students to look for answers and to be problem solvers.
During each class meeting, I make sure to visit with each student to check on progress and understanding. I offer opinions and critiques but my main goal is to encourage students to push themselves and try new things. It is during the one-on-one time that I encourage students to interpret assignments in the ways that they wish, as long as they meet the main objectives of the lesson. I show skills during demonstrations and the basic requirements for each assignment it is up to the student to sketch ideas the expand on those basic requirements. Not only does this allow for a variety in the projects but also makes critiques more diverse when students defend their work. As I teach and reinforce skills, the larger goal is to promote the critical analysis of problems and projects while aiming for the learning of creative problem solving skills.
By using these teaching strategies, I create an environment where creative problem solving and critical thinking skills can be taught, learned, and implemented freely. Ultimately, I am sharing a space with students where making can flourish and be a collaboration between everyone present.