One of my favorite definitions of teaching is that it is “leading students into situations they can only escape from by thinking,” and this forms the core of my philosophy of teaching. The statement emphasizes the role of the teacher as one who guides and challenges, rather than serving as a font of knowledge. It suggests intentionality, in that I have to know where I am leading my students and why, and it embodies the belief that learning is doing—it is thinking and solving problems, not sitting and listening, or even reading.
So my job is to intentionally create environments in which
students are forced to confront authentic, relevant problems that are important
to them, and to guide them as they work collaboratively toward solutions.
Because the world and my students keep changing, I need to be
constantly reflecting on what I want students to be learning, what they should
be doing to facilitate that learning, and how I can tell if I’m being
successful. These principles—intentionality; authentic, relevant questions; collaboration, and reflection—drive all aspects of my teaching, from what I do
on a daily basis in the classroom, to course and curriculum design with my colleagues in the department and the university.
In general, I teach courses related to ecology, evolution, population and quantitative genetics, conservation, and environmental science. Those include BIOL 105 (Information Flow in Biological Systems), and BIOL 106 (Energy Flow in Biological Systems) as well as several upper-division courses. I also developed a course for non-science majors called "The Biology of Food", which unites my enjoyment of teaching with a couple of my favorite pastimes--cooking and eating.