School name: Bellevue College, WA
Type of school: Bellevue College is an open-access, community-based public institution of higher education located in Bellevue, a city on the Eastside of Lake Washington, near Seattle
School locale: Bellevue is the largest suburb of Seattle, WA
Classes you teach: General Psychology, Lifespan Psychology, Cross Cultural Psychology
Average class size: 38
What’s the best advice about teaching you’ve ever received?
To be genuine and honest in the classroom, not to be afraid of sharing life stories and personal experiences (when appropriate), and to be caring and friendly towards students so they can see me as approachable and helpful – all together, those things help make a classroom a welcoming space for students and supports their learning. For me, a welcoming space is where we hear diverse opinions and ideas with an open mind, while critically evaluating ethnocentric thoughts.
What book or article has shaped your work as a psychology teacher?
Bain’s What the Best College Teachers Do, Ambrose et al.’s How Learning Works: Seven Research-Based Principles for Smart Teaching, Peck's The Road Less Traveled, Seligman’s Flourish: A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-being – to name a few – have influenced the way I approach teaching and my relationships with students. I also regularly read the Teaching of Psychology journal by STP and attend teaching conferences to help inform and advance my pedagogy. Based on readings and conversations with colleagues, I’ve come to understand the importance of creating an organic, learner-centered environment that encourages students to critically rethink assumptions, and provide them opportunities to cooperate and collaborate with peers.
Briefly tell us about your favorite lecture topic or course to teach.
Emerging Adulthood is by far one of my favorite topics to teach as it is so relevant to 80-85% of the students in the classroom. They are in that age range and understand how this crucial life stage can shape their future. We watch the TED talk by Meg Jay titled “Why 30 is not the new 20” and I have my students reflect on the goals Jay mentions in her talk.
Briefly describe a favorite assignment or in-class activity.
Favorite in-class activity: At the start of class on the topic of Emerging Adulthood (EA), I post the question – “Do you think you have reached adulthood?” on the whiteboard and have my students think about that question for a few minutes. I ask them to write down Yes / No / Yes & No and the reasons for their answer. Then I have them stand up and walk to the right side of the room if they said “Yes,” left side if they said “No” and middle of the room if they said “Yes & No.” They discuss among themselves in small groups what their reasons were, then they share them with the whole class and I write the reasons out for each group on the whiteboard. This activity helps demonstrate the five characteristics of EA as given by Arnett, and it also reveals cultural differences that exist vis-à-vis EA.
Favorite assignment: In Lifespan Psychology, I have my students do a group project at the end of the quarter, wherein they choose a life stage (e.g., adolescence) and test relevant theories by applying their knowledge of research methods and statistics. [Editor's note: this is pictured in the two pictures below.]
What teaching and learning techniques work best for you?
While trying new things in the classroom, I am not afraid to show my vulnerabilities and talk about my mistakes, as it makes me be human and relatable. Owning up to one’s mistakes while being kind and understanding towards oneself helps demonstrate self-compassion (Neff, 2008), a trait that is much needed to succeed in today’s day and age. Additionally, being open and willing to share life experiences with students, as storytelling can be a vehicle to establishing validation, identity, and emotional regulation among college students. Finally, TED talks are “essentials” to my teaching.
What’s your workspace like?
My office space is organized; it has books and journals, a picture of my family, my diploma in a wooden frame, and comfortable chairs for my visitors. I believe that my office is inviting to others – I have chocolates, tissue box and inspirational posters on the wall. I’m a true believer in the power of relationships, and I use my office space to have meaningful and open conversations with my students and colleagues.
Three words that best describe your teaching style.
Encouraging, Helpful, Passionate.
What is your teaching philosophy in 8 words or fewer?
Positive relationships and genuine interest promotes active learning.
What is something your students would be surprised to learn about you?
My students are often in disbelief when I tell them that I experienced high levels of test anxiety during school years and was an average student. I became an “A” grade student in grade 11 when I chose to study courses that were of interest to me. I often tell my students the vital role of curiosity and personal relevance in learning and academic success.
What are you currently reading for pleasure?
I recently completed Lahiri’s Unaccustomed Earth, and I’m currently reading Rankine’s Citizen: An American Lyric.
What tech tool could you not live without?
My laptop and Logitech wireless presentation pointer
What is your hallway chatter like? What do you talk to colleagues about most (whether or not it is related to teaching/school)?
At our college, we are very student-focused so we talk about effective classroom management strategies, how to report and handle concerning student behaviors and lately, we’ve been talking about how to get the administration to understand the need to lowering class caps to have a better student-teacher ratio, the one that promotes individual attention and high-quality classroom interactions.