Relationship building is the core principle of my pedagogical, personal, and professional philosophies. I begin by recognizing without judgment the unwritten and, often, untold personal stories based on life experiences. The moment in life that I share with another person is only a chapter of their life’s story. I believe it is my job as a teacher-educator to guide pre-service teachers in the writing of their story and help them see that they will, in turn, influence the stories of their students. To support students, my philosophy is supported by three pillars: autonomy, social justice, and music literacy.
College is an essential time for the development of self and identity. I see my role as a professor as more than an instructor. Instead, I often find myself as a listener, advisor, and mentor. These roles begin by eliminating barriers to education, open-mindedness, and flexibility. In my courses, I follow a Universal Design for Learning (UDL) approach by creating a flexible learning environment that offers multiple means of engagement, expression, and representation. I provide students in my courses with options for assignments and readings. I use a mixture of traditional articles, videos, and technology, like interactive websites, to support student learning. By emphasizing autonomy, I hope to foster student resourcefulness, critical thinking, and motivation.
My music literacy beliefs emphasize, sound before sight, audiation, movement, and improvising, but also stresses historical, cultural, societal, and transformational contexts. Although I have experience with the Kodály, Dalcroze, and Music Learning Theory approaches, students in my courses are introduced to a variety of philosophies and methods so they may make informed decisions about pedagogy. Students learn that their “why” of music plays a key role in their music literacy pedagogy decisions.
My physical disability and my experience as an elementary music teacher at an inner-city, urban schools have shown me the power that music education has on student empowerment. Thus, diversity and inclusion forms a quintessential part of approach to teaching university students. I have incorporated social justice into courses by focusing on a mindset of "seek to understand” rather than judgment. It is expected in the courses I teach that undergraduate students consider race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, language, location, and ability when planning and implementing lessons. I believe this is done through an establishment of authentic relationship between myself and undergraduate students, cooperating teachers, and local school districts. I also invite scholars and cultural barriers throughout the semester to speak on specialized topics.
Although my philosophy evolves as my story is written, it is based on forming authentic relationships with students, colleagues, in-service teachers, and communities. In turn, I encourage undergraduates to establish relationships with their own students. When music education is based on positive relationships, transformational change extends beyond the professor to undergraduates and their future students.