Teshia Young Roby, PhD
~Doris Lessing, Author and Poet
I believe learning is the process of stretching the reaches of what one already knows. I believe teaching is the act of helping students strengthen the sinew between their current knowledge base and the new concepts being presented. Students enter a learning community with unique experiences, learning styles, skills, strengths, and value systems that must be inventoried and constantly referenced during the teaching and learning process. I believe the effectiveness of that process must-be regularly assessed, reflected upon, and adjusted. Through these actions, simultaneously and together, the students and the educator experience learning and growth.
In my classrooms – both face-to-face and online – I employ a mixture of techniques that include forms of traditional instruction and active learning. I subscribe to constructivism and problem based learning theories, so students in my courses are required to complete projects that have individual relevance and that demonstrate applied comprehension of the presented concepts. When working with pre-service and in-service teachers, I challenge them to become ethnographers of their own digital age students and to consider how effective use of educational technologies in their classrooms could impact the cultural capital of their students. For example, in one Master’s-level course that I have often taught called Technology for Educators, the final project is an electronic portfolio that showcases the student-teacher’s ability to integrate technology into her teaching. As a requirement, the e-portfolio includes the student-teacher’s teaching philosophy, preferred classroom environment, student demographics assessment, professional development plan, and a technology-rich learning unit that she created on a topic within her teaching discipline. Similarly, in Alternative Learning Environments, a graduate-level course that I teach, students work closely in partnerships and as a collective community while using web 2.0 technologies such as wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and virtual environments to investigate the potential pedagogical benefits of such technologies in academic, professional, and research settings. As a final project for the course, each student contributes substantive multimedia content and refereed research information on the topics that we negotiated on as a community. Each contribution is peer-reviewed by other students in the class for accuracy and completeness. What results is a body of knowledge that students refer to even after the course as they continue through the program and advance in their own research.
As a college professor at a regional, urban university, I work with an array of student communities in largely diverse and multi-cultural learning environments. From graduate students in our educational technolgies program who represent a variety of academic and industry professions, to post bacculaurette students in our teacher education program who are seeking credentials in the K-12 spectrum of grades and subjects, to undergraduate students from multiple disciplines who take our general education courses, most of my students share the common threads of being busy professionals with familial responsibilities. These commonalities and differences allow for incredibly rich classroom community interactions, creative and applicative course deliverables, and perpetually valuable course artifacts developed through the community knowledge-construction activities and social technologies that we use in my courses.
As an educator, I embrace my responsibility to continuously reassess the effectiveness of my teaching practices; revisit my teaching philosophy; be open to and knowledgeable of new teaching approaches and technologies; remain mindful of how my teaching philosophy may impact future educators, administrators, and professionals; and to always remember that the process and the reward of both teaching and learning is stretch, to reach, to strive.
This is an overview of a course that I teach for the Ethnic and Women's Studies Department called Gender, Identity, Culture, and Technolog:
Site last updated: 4/27/10