As a lifelong learner, I’ve found that it’s a give and take sort of thing, and that teaching is just a different away of approaching it. This is something I find personally important to remember when I’m in the classroom. Oftentimes, I find myself imagining learning as the River Styx, in no uncertain terms. It’s something so infinite and yes—dare I say it—mystical even, that it requires guidance, a god-like kind, and I am no god. But I’m on that boat ride over, all the same. Plan to be, every single time, sitting neither above or below but right there next to my students, learning alongside them.
I approach the classroom like I would a polite democracy. I value manners and proper protocol—in place of submission. I seek variety and the multi-faceted nature of a classroom, instead of conformity. I esteem the creative mind to the same degree as the scholarly. I wish for my classroom to be an open forum in which we can create something wonderful, something resonant. I
In creating my ideal learning space, I hope to bring energy, as well as empathy, to the classroom. I approach this goal by varying the format of my lectures: video, the visual nature of well-designed PowerPoints, the occasional game, and group-work. I try to strike a balance in the assignments I give so that there’s equal attention paid to both reading and writing; and that writing, too, is a healthy mix of the academic and creatively reflective.
I wish to show my students how to approach the process of learning with earnestness, willingness, and thoughtfulness; that there’s no room for black-and-white thinking in the tolerant and progressive classroom. I hope to re-write their notions of Wrong or Right, and show them through my own example how these aren’t necessarily the equivalents of Bad and Good. Because to learn is to attempt, and there is no unworthiness in the second or third or seventh try. Instead, there is only encouragement and admiration for the dedicated learner.