My approach to teaching is wholistic and is based on the teachings of my Aishinaabeg and Celtic ancestors.
I give thanks to the guidance I’ve received from Elders, Indigenous scholars and allies who’ve shaped my approach. My experiences as an educator have taught me valuable lessons about awakening consciousness, and a deep sense of patience and gratitude for the opportunities to learn with many incredible spirits. Teaching has taught me self discipline, openness to change, tireless work ethic, and the ability to truly listen in order to meet people where they are at. Having also been coordinator of Indigenous education at College of the Rockies, in British Columbia, I learned to improve my administrative capacities to deliver multiple layers of educational programming simultaneously. All these experience have taught me to aim for innovation and strive for excellence. I look forward to growing and utilizing the knowledge of my ancestors as I continue to pick up the pieces they have left behind on the trail.
SUMMARY OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
My personal teaching philosophy is guided by the circle. In class we start with circle. Students are engaged in dialogue to elucidate their gifts and strengths. Reault (1999) introduces an Ojibway language phrase “Aazhikenimonenaadizid Bemaadizid” meaning “the study of the behaviour of life” (p.105) in his groundbreaking masters thesis Ansihinaabe Mino Bimaadiziwin: The Way of a Good Life. This term is the closest word for philosophy in Anishinaabeg language. Using the sensibility of this phrase, my teaching philosophy includes the following four features:
- Teaching as an act of Kinoo’amaadawaad Megwaa Doodamawaad, roughly translated to mean “they are learning with each other while they are doing”
Waaskone Giizhikook (Lana Ray) (2012)
- Teaching as an act of “Biskaabiiang” – “Returning to ourselves”; (Geniusz, 2009, p.9)
- Teaching as a ‘search’ for ways to inspire students to live in a way that honours all relations; and,
- Teaching to reflect ancient wisdom found in Anishinaabe Cultural Knowledge (ACK), especially as it relates to the preservation and restoration of land and water for future generations .
By teaching in this way, each course can guide students to recognize their gifts and use them to direct their path. Their experience can be authentically Indigenous through the activation of de-colonial narratives.
The most important feature of my approach to education is the inclusion of students as teachers. Together we work to identify our strengths and weaknesses, based on the balance found in the four quadrants of medicine wheel (mind, body, spirit, and emotions). Classes include sharing circles, engaging dialogue, and practical applications of student’s learning experiences. Our collective priority is to awaken each others gifts to encourage self mastery.
TEACHING METHODS AND STRATEGIES
Learning in circle ensures students play an equal role in their education by removing barriers found in the power structures of a colonial education system. Students are inspired to awaken their personal narrative through assessments that includes reflective writing. Students are also encourage to share personal narratives awoken through the act of storytelling. By sharing a personal narrative and ongoing journey to come to know what it means to be Anishinaabe, students are often inspired to start their own journey of cultural and ancestral identity development.
Cyclical themes such as seasonal changes and moon cycles are woven into each lesson grounding students in their ancestral wisdom. Students are always encouraged to apply the lessons of each week to their understanding of the world and challenged to recognize colonial assumptions. In each course, pending institutional requirements, students are encouraged to complete their assignments based on their personal strengths. Students are empowered to utilize their gifts, which often came in the form of artistic expressions. The results are a mosaic of artistry, sound, and genuine inspiration. Students are offered opportunities to learn beyond the classroom within local community contexts. The ultimate goal of my teaching philosophy is to develop wholistic programming opportunities that enable students to define their personal goals and an open door to achieve them.
For an in-depth look at courses I have taught and designed visit [here]