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Educator Philosophy and Statements

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Whether we have identified it or not, every educator is driven by a philosophy, that informs how they work with students, engage in development, and if in higher education, conduct research. Here, you will find my research and teaching philosophies, both rooted in transformative educational practices rooted in equity and justice. 

Teaching

My pedagogical practice is rooted in critical reflection and action, or as Paulo Freire would call it, praxis. This is essential to who I am as an educator as I believe not only in teaching theory for the sake of reflection, but also in engaging in it through my pedagogy, which is why I approach teaching as both an act of service and a collaborative practice. It is essential that I am constantly reflective and reflexive in all that I do so that I can ensure that I remain an equitable, social justice educator who values and centers the student experience.

As a middle and high school humanities teacher, I also infused critical theories into my teaching. For example, I had eighth graders who wrote about the interconnections of redlining, perceptions of “good” neighborhoods, and school funding as an equity issue, or explored the intersection of gender and the Industrial Revolution. I also had my 10th graders discuss structure and agency as they relate to short stories like The Paper Menagerie, by Ken Lieu. We explored the themes of identity and the main character’s agency and decisions for assimilation, but we also discussed the structure that forced assimilation and why it is a violent act. I continued this work when I was a visiting English teacher of record at Lincoln High School, where the school contacted me to teach because of my reputation for community building. This school is diverse across different social identities, including race, socioeconomic status, disability, and language, and I consistently ensured that materials were applicable, accessible, and relevant to students and always critically investigated oppressive structures while also ensuring to instill hope. Students in both experiences were applying these large concepts of systemic oppression to their own experiences, and recognizing the interconnectedness of individual struggle and systems. They exemplified this knowledge in their papers, where they discussed their own educational experiences as they related to the education system and larger society, and often found ways to include learnings from their Ethnic Studies coursework, where English and Ethnic Studies were used to complement each other. As a sociology instructor, I have encouraged student critical thinking through writing assessments, including autoethnographic assignments, and games. One such example is using something called Stratified Monopoly, where players are stratified according to social class, and we explore concepts of social mobility within the United States and then tie in intersectional identities as they relate to sociology themes. My students are deeply engaged in these materials and see me model a reflective scholar practice through my interactions with them. 

Because of my success, I was asked to create a literacy intervention program as well as a curriculum that was embedded into the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) but what measured my success just as much was that students who were historically truant were now attending class and ensuring they were present on campus. It was here in this position that I was teaching middle school students how to critically engage with materials, such as an assignment where they had to take a historical concept and time period we explored and create an informative brochure. Students as young as thirteen years old were creating materials around the Stonewall Riots, the intersection of the Industrial Revolution and gender, redlining, or historical practices that harmed The Tuskegee Airmen. It was because of my critical and innovative teaching practices that I was tasked to create a curriculum for the school rooted in equity. 

Accessibility is vital for any instruction as well, which is why I am a firm believer in differentiated teaching. One example of differentiated teaching that I provide is that I use different modes of communication and curriculum choices to help students synthesize the materials. Access to readings, videos, as well as audio lectures if online or in-class lectures if in-person allows my students to engage with the materials in different ways so that students who may struggle with one modality have an opportunity to absorb the materials. My differentiation does not stop at curriculum choices, but also my assessments. One approach for my assessments is that I do not rely heavily on only one mode, such as tests. I provide a variety of assessments, from engagement, which can be measured through a variety of assessments, including tests, written papers, videos, and creative reflections. For me, students need to be engaged with the work and it is my job as an educator to provide them opportunities to hone their skills and abilities, but also to reflect on course materials in their strengths while helping to build other skills. This also provides me useful insight into the effectiveness of my instruction and the ways I can adjust to be a better instructor.

My effectiveness as an instructor has been highlighted by my teaching evaluations and my student responses regarding statistics. Having been a class many students dread, I ensure it remains rigorous, applied, and accessible. I work closely with students to foster their success and have them reflect on their own capabilities through the use of a student portfolio. They work with real data through case studies and have to critically reflect on the data. However, I am also a strong qualitative researcher and teacher, engaging with undergraduates as they craft their own research. Introduction to qualitative research in educational settings, at UCSD, I have students design research questions and collect their own data, coding and analyzing it, then writing an entire qualitative research paper. Students have gone on to submit this for graduate studies, and many have even said that they initially had no interest in conducting their own research, but that this inspired them.

I believe that deep and often complex theoretical concepts need to be coupled with activities and done in a way that students can see how theory is not only ideas but how they can help transform our society. I believe my job as an educator is to ensure that my students not only are academically successful but also have the tools to take big ideas they will learn in sociology and apply them to the world around them so that we can reshape the present and future. Essentially, my job as an educator is to model the ideas of hope throughout the educational journey for a better future for all.

My research encompasses the concept of praxis. My dissertation work, entitled, Disruption, Dissent, and Dialogue: YPAR as a Pedagogical and Institutional Tool, exemplifies my ability to be interdisciplinary with a sociological emphasis while also using action research for classroom practice and institutional change. My conceptual framework is an innovative, reflective, and reflexive design to disrupt cultural capital within K-12 schooling while using Yosso’s community cultural wealth with a (Y)PAR methodological approach. While my research was focused on K-12, the intentionality is that (youth) participatory action research is necessary to consider when conceptualizing institutional and pedagogical change. Because of my sociology background, I envision education as systemic, requiring deeper critical thinking and engagement.

 

Past Research

In 2015, I was involved with a large project between San Diego State University’s Sociology Department and The Center on Policy Initiatives, resulting in a policy brief entitled, Shorted: Wage Theft, Time Theft, and Discrimination in San Diego’s Restaurant Industry. This research raised awareness of labor issues within restaurants as well as sick day policies in San Diego and highlights my commitment to research that helps reduce inequities and inequalities in our society, as well as working-class populations, much of whom overlap with my students at the community colleges.

 

In my master’s program, I conducted literature reviews on K-16+ schooling and used secondary data available around San Diego schools. After a semester and conversations with my advisor, I co-founded a nonprofit, The Dignified Learning Project. This nonprofit work has propelled me to do research on the idea of participatory budgeting, with a peer-reviewed book chapter I co-authored, entitled, Community-Based Funding and Budgeting: Participatory Budgeting as a Transformative Act. 

 

Current Projects

I am currently writing several articles to contribute to scholarship that can be used by researchers and teachers alike utilizing participatory action research as institutional and pedagogical tools within higher education, especially as they relate to student learning outcomes and curriculum development. Because of the remarks I received from my committee, I am currently writing a piece on how to write a dissertation for doctoral students by using my innovative approach to my research, as most of my research now centers on support and mentoring of higher education students through writing, research methodologies, and collective and community engagement.

 

Future Trajectory

Research methodologies within the educational setting, as well as critical methodologies overall, are vital for my future work, which will include: 

  1. Critical disabilities frameworks from a sociological perspective 

  2. Multimodal ethnographic research on higher education camaraderie

  3. Theoretical contributions to PAR within the context of higher education using my innovative framework

  4. Critical graduate mentoring focuses on the annual conference I organize, entitled, Praxis in Education; I work with graduate students to mentor them in the academic field and train research methods for community organizing and activism

  5. Visual research methods on education, housing, and accessibility in Southern California

Research

My research is deeply committed to diversity and inclusion as a means for liberation by changing structures and through system-level thinking. My work is dedicated to applied research to change educational systems and institutions as a means for equitable education for all as it relates to educational practice. My research and pedagogical beliefs, from collaborative classroom environments to encouraging students to critically engage with the world, will remain a continued effort to uphold.

Let’s Work Together

Tel: 858-248-5423

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