Teaching is a privilege. As a social worker, I uphold the strengths-based perspective and seek to empower all students in class. My goal is to facilitate learning by creating a brave and safe space where students can be vulnerable with each other and with me, and in their acceptance of the unknown.
As an educator, it is my responsibility to facilitate opportunities for students to explore and grapple with their self-identified learning process, encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, and end expand attributes of their professional identity. Thus, my teaching pedagogy is grounded in principles of experiential-learning, engaging the critical thinking process, and collaborative learning.
It is my belief that students should be encouraged, empowered, and moreover expected to fail at some point in their learning; this should not be held against them. I am interested in the effort and process, not only the success in meeting a specified competency.
My earliest teaching experience was as a horseback-riding instructor. While this may seem non-traditional, the fundamental components of facilitating the learning process of others are consistent. When teaching in the arena, I provided direction, encouraged refinement of skill, and of course I provided critical feedback to facilitate performance improvement.
Though counterintuitive, I have minimal control of the environment; I cannot make the rider do anything – I cannot alter their physical ability, I cannot control the horse for them. They must decide, act, and control their own environment.
As a Professional Association of Therapeutic Horseback Riding International (PATH) certified instructor I take this methodology one step further when teaching therapeutic horseback riding lessons wherein riders are also grappling with various levels of ability and disability. My experience of teaching the arena mirrors my time in the classroom. Teaching horseback riding has strengthened my skills in classroom management including how to have a presence of body and voice, and to acknowledge the peripheral experience in the classroom.