My personal philosophy of adult education reflects my experiences in the education system as a woman of color, while also incorporating teaching philosophies and pedagogical theories. Because of my personal experiences as a first-generation college student of color, I recognize the importance of feeling a sense of belonging on campus and endeavor to make meaningful connections with my students. I am inspired by my past educators who saw my potential and cultivated my development.
Coach John Wooden, who taught English prior to his career as a basketball coach, defined success as “peace of mind that is the direct result of self-satisfaction in knowing you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” This definition of success has always resonated with me, especially in the school setting. Success requires reaching one’s personal best without comparison to others. In the classroom, I recognize and wholly accept that success looks different for each student. Students have different stressors, as well as varying access to resources.
I incorporate various pedagogical philosophies within my own teaching philosophy. A strengths-based approach to teaching is at the core, as I strive to recognize and cultivate students’ unique strengths. The diverse life experiences that each student has is a strength that they can use to contribute to the classroom – even if they may not initially recognize it as such.
My personal teaching philosophy is informed by critical race theory and feminist theory. The constructs of “race” and “gender” perpetuate stereotypes and maintain inequitable systems that benefit the advancement of a few at the expense of many. Hence, in considering the diverse backgrounds of all my students, I strive to critically assess how the educational system is (dis)serving them, as well as how I can self-evaluate and work to correct my own biases.
I have made an effort to learn more about Paulo Freire’s teachings, including critical consciousness, and aim to better incorporate his philosophies into my classroom by enabling students to learn from each other and consider real-world applications. Students have the individual and collective agency to effect change. As an educator, I want my students to contribute to their field and apply their knowledge to real-world settings.