Thought Provoking Lessons Learned

I have always considered myself to be an empathetic teacher. I feel that my students also see me as empathetic and caring. Perhaps too much so! I recall at the end of one semester, I asked students for their feedback on the course – What did they like? What did they think overall? I’ll never forget how one student, Isaiah, said, “Professor, you’re too nice!” I know this about myself, that I will always be forgiving and lenient and err on the side of the student. Teaching at BMCC has taught me that many of our students come from a wide-range of circumstances that may impede their education, I see myself as someone who should encourage and facilitate, not make things more difficult for students. 

So while I am VERY happy to be a part of this workshop, many of the strategies that we learned are things that I do anyway. Things like inclusive pedagogy – which I have made a point of doing since taking an Intersectionality seminar last year. I strive to make sure that I am using inclusive language, encourage my students to think critically and examine their biases and assumptions, and use diverse examples in my lectures. Also, using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) as a framework and focusing on activities/assignments that promote reflection and critical thinking and not just regurgitation for a test. 

One thing that I would like to work on during the Fall 2020 semester is building a stronger community in my asynchronous classes. As most professors do, I rely on Discussion Board assignments to create the sense of community in my online classes. I need to rethink my Discussion Board assignments so that students are more engaged when responding to each other. Principle 4: Collaboration and Mutuality (Carello, 2014) would be a good place to start with this. 

Overall, I have to say that this workshop has been extremely beneficial to me as a person. The SCEER framework was revelatory to me because of the most important principle of trauma-informed pedagogy: self care. While this is a concept that is seemingly obvious, it is one that I definitely overlook. I’m not sure if it’s because I am a mother, and it has become automatic for me to put myself last, or if there is another reason. However, during our first Zoom session, I was struck by the obvious –  that we ALL have trauma. Just because we are present and engaged does not mean that it doesn’t exist or that it is healed. The trauma is there and it manifests differently. The importance of recognizing this in our students also is paramount. Just because they are present and participating one day, doesn’t mean that the next day they will be able to engage with the same enthusiasm.

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