New Practices: A “To Do” List
The newly developed practices that this study has generated have aided in helping students raise their critical consciousness. Higher critical consciousness is indicative of critical thinking, effective communication, and analytical and philosophical thought. These are three out of five of NKU’s general education goals. Below are the new best practices that were developed from the theoretical discussion in chapter two, the best practices outlined in chapter three, as well as the first person action research process of plan, act, observe, and reflect. In surveying the context of how Afrocentric theory, Black Feminist theory, and Critical pedagogical framework relates to the three existing practices discussed in chapter three as key moments of teaching practices, I have developed these new practices. I write them as a reference for myself, but hope that readers might engage in a similar approach.
1. Create a safe space: Create a level playing field. Begin by building a foundation of trust. Quell fears by creating a space of openness. Respect different ways of participating in class, as long as students meet the criteria expected. Create relationships in order to customize the course and to continue building trust. Be present and listen. Be vulnerable and share. Use Anticipation guides as a means to prepare students for what is coming up in the course and to trust the process that has been working.
2. Establish the practice that everyone is a teacher and a learner: Listen! Strive to utilize the safe space to engage in discussion and scholarly debate. It is in this type of conflict that analytical thought is fostered, utilizing opportunities for students to engage in both sides of the argument is important. Acknowledge when students are teaching and give feedback. Be sure to give voice to academic thinkers in the field and non-academic.
3. Check-in regularly with each student: It is important to trust your instincts. Strengthen your instincts by comparing your measure of how the class is going with what your students are saying. Survey students the first day of class to truly ascertain their level of fear, knowledge of the subject matter, skills, hobbies, and desire to engage in both the subject matter and the classroom general. Check-in by survey with students mid semester. Each semester is unique, the student dynamic changes. The advantage of knowing each student grouping and what specifically they know is beneficial. In addition, my final survey and the survey the university provides at the end of the semester helps cultivate an action plan for the future.
4. Offer diverse course materials: Develop a reading list rich with both the study of the oppression and empowering of marginalized groups. Consider the people in your class and make the course material resonate with them and lesson plans relate to them.
5. Demand rigor: I must suggest readings that connect and, even in the beginning of the semester, use the lecture, discussion, feedback, and course material to help guide them in making connections. Model analytical thought for students by giving example connections and asking open-ended questions for discussion to facilitate a deepening of their conversation.
Implementing these simplified actions will enhance the student’s learning environment. It offers value added for students in that these practices enhance critical thinking, communication, and analytical thought. Given the connection to NKU’s Student Learning Outcomes and the alignment with general education goals, there is significant benefit to educators using it in the academy. As the data reveals, these new best practices encourage generating new ideas, develop questioning and research skills, and cultivating connections between local and global relationships. It does this by using the literature and course work as a vehicle to motivate critical thinking and engage in dialogue, both orally and written. Including
Critical Pedagogy, Afrocentric theory, Black Feminist theory, and Equity theory combined into Critical Consciousness raising theory into classroom pedagogy will have a positive impact on raising student critical consciousness and, in turn, aids in reaching the goal of social justice and equity. Let’s weave a wonderful tapestry together where we focus on raising critical consciousness that prepares students to participate in the democracy.