My philosophy as a teacher and mentor
As a professor of language, literature and culture, I have always faced my work with great passion. I know this involves, above all, dealing with people (colleagues, students) that deserve profound respect. I see my teaching vocation as a powerful opportunity to influence the lives of other human beings with whom I share everyday life on campus.
There are two conditions that I want to promote among my students: first of all, the development of critical independence facing the world and the traditional knowledge. I want them to consider their freedom as a responsibility and a challenge to discover in them the intellectual curiosity that enables us to become people committed with our own education. Secondly, I want my students to recognize themselves as part of a pluralistic world in which values such as tolerance and participation are necessary for building up a more just and productive society.
The student is the center of my class. My educational project is created around it, although it should be emphasized that this depends on the level of the class and the specific objectives. For example, at basic language classes, a solid grammatical foundation combined with communicative and collaborative activities should be promoted. This allows students to acquire confidence in their language skills. In the intermediate and conversation courses, elements of culture and community must be incorporated, that is to say, students should learn about the social and historical circumstances of the different Spanish speaking countries, including the United States. In literature and film classes, which are two areas in which I have particular experience, I center my lessons in the promotion of what I call “will of interpretation”. This concept allows a reader´s justified opinion; in other words, it tries to develop in the student the intuition of the formal reader and at the same time the capacity to recognize the ideological aspects of the analyzed cultural products. In this type of class, and given the fact that students speak Spanish fluently, I promote dialogue as the common experience of reading. This allows the comparison and contrast of ideas in a respectful way. My function as an instructor is to be a mere facilitator to guide and direct, that is to say, someone who does not impose a definitive opinion ever.
The use of technology is another element of my courses. With the development of virtual tools and audiovisual support, language classes and literature can be taught in a context of greater fluidity and interaction. I think resources such as chat rooms, online assessments, Web 2.0, among others, allow the students to take some responsibility for their education, thus achieving an active and critical provision of the intellectual process in which they are involved. Based on my experience, I can assure that technology stimulates and accelerates the learning process, facilitating both the task of the instructor and the student.
Finally, I believe it is essential to promote among students the concept of community. I have participated with them in activities such as visits to art exhibitions, cultural and collective practices on campus, which offers a realistic and dynamic perspective of the language and culture learning process. One of the direct benefits obtained from these practices is the increasing number of student interested in participating in abroad programs. To be able to encourage students to register in these programs is one of the greatest satisfactions I have had in my academic life. Dialogue, diversity, technology, individual, communities, and culture are, the pillars on which I build my teaching strategies. With this philosophy I have tried to promote cultural expressions of Hispanic communities among those interested in learning its forms, traditions, and history. I believe this is the way I can encourage the understanding among all of us.
Work in the classroom never ends. To be a teacher is to have the humility to learn day by day, week after week, semester after semester: we work with human beings, that’s why I believe our profession is science and art. What we do is the promotion of a constant dialogue.
In my classroom I first seek to create a warm and humane environment, Then I work to achieve understanding and collaboration. I do not see the students as empty containers ready to be filled; They are not passive beings but have the capacity for action, comprehension and implementation of the knowledge that we create together.
Promotion of my courses
A couple of videos promoting my Span 301 (Spanish for Heritage Learners) class.
The opinion of my students is very important. I believe that as teachers we must be subjected to a constant evaluation because only through these we can adapt to new realities and grow. Each semester I make a deep reflection based on the comments, suggestions and recommendations of my students and also of my colleagues.
Here you can read some of he most recent testimonials from my students.
Puebla Abroad Program Director
In the summer of 2015 I took of group of students to Puebla, México, as a part of our abroad program. I wrote and edited the following video to promote our program among the student community in Penn State.
These are some of their reactions to this beautiful experience.
Interview with Claudia from Ibero Puebla -Spanish-
A conversation with Claudia Colinas, representative of Ibero Puebla. Making connections between institutions has always been part of my responsibilities.