TEACHING

Paula's Teaching Philosophy:

"Experience is at the root of understanding."​

- Paula Gardner, Associate Professor, Brock University

Pedagogical Approaches & Perspectives

The course content, format, evaluation scheme and learning processes that I employ through my pedagogical approaches are informed by the following schools of thought:

 

  1. Critical Reflexive Inquiry is a complex form of higher order reasoning that integrates critical thinking (making sense of things through questioning) and reflexivity (active consideration of personal and epistemological beliefs and values).
     

  2. Participatory Pedagogy is an educational approach in which multiple perspectives, opinions, and active creation on the part of learners all contribute to the final context of the learner experience. From this perspective, knowledge exchange is considered a shared responsibility among all participants (i.e. instructor and all students).
     

  3. Experiential Learning is often referred to as ‘learning through action’. In this approach, educators purposefully engage students in direct experience and focused reflection in order to increase knowledge, develop skills and clarify values.
     

  4. Mindfulness is a style of teaching that infuses learning with the experience of present awareness. As a particular method of instruction, mindfulness assists students and educators in awakening and opening their minds to new learning possibilities and more effective ways of being in the classroom.

"My success is best evaluated in the ways in which it impacts the lives and work of my students far beyond my classroom."​

- Paula Gardner, Associate Professor, Brock University

UNIVERSITY COURSES

Curious about the types of courses I teach? Read brief course summaries or view and download copies of my course syllabi.

I thought it was really great that the content we learned in class was able to be applied through our project. It not only made my understanding of content and information easier to grasp but it was an amazing experience getting out in the community and applying research skills.

- Brock University Student

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Educational Leadership
 

My educational leadership approach is one of mindful leadership. A mindful leader is someone who embodies leadership presence - giving your full attention to what you’re doing and others know it. I demonstrate leadership presence through:

Generous Listening: Listening is more than being quiet while the other person speaks until you can say what you have to say. Guided by the wisdom of interviewer Krista Tippett, my approach to listening is powered by curiosity and involves a kind of vulnerability — a willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity. I aim to understand the humanity behind the words of the other, and summon my best self to the task.

Focused Attention: In focused attention we practice concentrating on a single ‘object’ – the event, conversation, or task. What this moment requires of me is to show up, to lean in to the full experience with openness and warmth, whatever it is. Leaning in means not turning away or resisting things that are difficult.

 

Selflessness: Selflessness is the wisdom of getting out of your own way, the way of those you are working with, and the way of your organization to allow for the natural flow of energy and enthusiasm. In leadership, selflessness manifests itself as humility and service. Others recognize when they are the experts and have the space to use their knowledge and strengths.


I have found the impact of a mindful leadership approach is that it makes leading easier and more effective. Specifically, it allows me to respond rather than react in situations, provides the space for creative problem solving, and fosters clarity and a calm energy that others respond well to.