Here goes! It feels scary to put my TPS out into the world! Open to all feedback and comments.
Hillarie Zimmermann - Teaching Philosophy Statement
Learning can be uncomfortable. As an eighteen-year old Canadian student, I found myself in South Africa pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in South African politics. I have memories of my first class in Industrial Sociology in Southern Africa. My mind spun. We were asked to read documents from the South African Communist Party (1915-1980). I was uncomfortable. I was excited. I was challenged. Beyond the intellectual challenge, university was a fundamental time in my personal development. I marveled at the adventure of being somewhere new. I met unbelievably interesting people and I had personal moments of social and emotional discovery. It was a time of great discomfort and a time of great growth. There were so many factors in my growth – my engagement with other people, my engagement with faculty, my engagement with new information, my engagement with place.
Twenty-five years later, I find myself a teacher. I find myself the facilitator of students’ self-discovery. All students have such great potential. I want students to take a risk. I want them to think about their potential to change their own worlds and to change the world around them. I believe that everyone can make a meaningful difference in the world, however small. We do this by being curious. By asking questions. By reflecting upon what we believe to be true. “Don’t believe everything you think”. Challenge the world around you. Education is a key piece of challenging the norm, of creating a more equitable society. I like to model curiosity. I am interested and excited by new ideas and multiple ways of knowing. I want students to ask questions and challenge their understanding of the way things are.
I believe that my role as a teacher is to create a safe and welcoming environment where students feel they can explore who they are, how they fit in the world around them, and how they can make the world a better place. I respect my students as people. They are people with a wealth of prior experience and knowledge and they have a lot to contribute to conversations. It is the process of sharing that allows for growth. I understand that sharing takes courage and I talk about the discomfort and vulnerability that I feel when I share my thoughts, feelings and ideas. I too am human and want my students to see my vulnerability.
I see my role in the classroom as a facilitator. I guide my students through a course in a collaborative and consultative manner. I believe that my role is to provide an accessible course format, interesting and relevant content, and the opportunity for students to interact with myself, other students, and the content to discover new and interesting ways to look at the world. I ensure my students feel supported and safe and I fundamentally believe that success is based on being open-minded, taking risks, and putting in hard and persistent effort. I also constantly challenge my own beliefs and conceptions of what makes a “good student” and what “hard and persistent effort” looks like. I believe that continuous personal reflection is necessary to ensure education is inclusive and open to all.
Class discussions are my favourite part of teaching. I understand that every student learns differently and as such I integrate technology and aspects of distance learning into my face-to-face classes to give students a variety of options for interacting with the content, myself, and other students. Engaging conversations can happen through a variety of media and I constantly challenge myself to increase the level of accessibility to these conversations.
Education is powerful in personal journeys. I have an intense desire to support people in their personal journeys. I understand that being a teacher offers an opportunity to be a small piece of this journey.