My personal philosophy of education

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.

Trauma-Informed Sport Coaching

To best support girls with a history of trauma, sport coaches should consider and include principles of trauma-informed in their practices when possible.

Eight core principles of trauma-informed programming include:

  1. Opportunities for girls to make meaningful contributions
  2. Established code of behavior
  3. Evidence of positive traditions
  4. Opportunities to opt in or out
  5. Coaching in pairs
  6. Body & brain-based warm-ups / cool-downs
  7. Repetition of practice
  8. Modified competition

(1) Coaches can offer multiple opportunities for girls to make meaningful contributions during practice. By doing so, the coach teaches her athletes the value of beyond-the-self actions for the betterment of team and community. This enables the athlete to feel connected and empowered in social situations.

(2) Establishing a clear and collaborative code of behavior promotes consistent conduct, such as the prosocial treatment of teammates, referees, and opponents.

(3) Evidence of positive traditions — such as coming up with team names, team cheers, or supporting teammates — can establish a team’s code of behavior.

(4) Coaches can also explicitly offer opportunities to opt out or in of a particular activity. When opt outs are built into sports practice, girls make autonomous decisions and only participate in situations that feel most comfortable to them. This is good practice for voicing their opinion and being independent in other aspects of their current life (e.g., negative peer pressure at school) or future life (e.g., toxic work situations or potentially unhealthy romantic relationships).

(5) Given that girls can opt out, adults should aim to coach in at least groups of two. This would increase the coaching staff’s capability and availability to provide individual support to athletes – such that one coach could continue to lead an activity, while the other attends to girls who have elected to not participate.

(6) Practices can be strengthened by incorporating body and brain-based warm-up and cool-down activities. This can help girls be in tune with their bodies and learn self-awareness.

(7) Coaches can build in the repetition of skills across activities within modules. Repetitive activities helps youth self-regulate.

(8) Modifications in competition should be included whenever possible. Girls are still building their athletic skills. Competition can be scaffolded to meet their developing needs and budding skills.

(!) The valuable components of trauma-informed programming help not just girls with a history. All girls on the team benefit when practice is trauma-informed!

More information about these core principles can be found in this 2016 article by Dr. Lou Bergholz and colleagues.