Teaching Beyond Theory To Praxis Marcia J. Clinkscales, Ph.D.

    The Teaching Associates in the Department of Communication and Culture have been introduced to a new teaching and learning model as part of their educational preparation as TA's. The model is based on teaching beyond theory toward self and identity formation, utilizing self-understanding through the lens of theory in the classroom. The model examines self-exploration via vocation and calling. What do you understand about yourself as a teacher that informs the intellectual development of your students? Much attention is given to identifying and clarifying a clear sense of mission and purpose as it relates to professional development as a teacher and specifically in teaching the Basic Course, Principles of Speech. The model focuses upon examining theoretical content taught in the Basic Course, such as self-concept, self-disclosure, interpersonal communication, perception, culture and its direct application to self-understanding and enrichment.

     Secondly, in order to further deepen self: exploration the TA's study four different scholarly books and monographs on teaching pedagogy during the academic year. Specific attention is given to understanding how different minds learn differently, and understanding cultural difference as a part designing classroom engagement. The model further utilizes the circular design for all presentations and discussions based on new theory advanced from the book, Understanding Organization Through Culture and Structure: Relational and Other Lessons Learned from the African-American Organization (Nicotera & Clinlcscales, 2003).

     Lastly, the teaching and learning model embraces a service component. Currently, the TA's are teaching in teams at Anacostia High School, in the District of Columbia, bringing college-level teaching to the inner-city high school classroom. The TA's are teaching the Basic Course with specific emphasis on identity formation, and socio­cultural exposure. The same pedagogical model that is used in the training of TA's is advanced in the secondary education classroom. This teaching methodology provides an opportunity for those in the inner-city classroom to see possibilities beyond their limited space and for identifying their raison de'tere. Communication theory in the course is designed to assist students in greater dimensions of understanding self. In addition, the socio-cultural component is experienced through tours of Howard University, convocation services, classroom visitation, and guest lectures. The model is designed to involve students taught by the TA's as mentors and role models as a service component built into their syllabus for community service.

    Nicotera, A. M., & Clinkscales, M. J., with Walker, F. (2003). Understanding organization through culture and structure: Relational and Other Lessons from the African American Organization. Mahwah, NJ: LEA.