ITA 2017 Nominee: Angelique Dwyer Posted on April 16th, 2018 by

This is one of a few interviews conducted by Ellyn Adelmann ‘18 with winners and previous nominees for the Gustavus Innovative Teaching Award during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Angelique Dwyer, Department of Modern Languages, Literature, and Cultures, Spanish, LALACS, and Gender, Women and Sexuality Studies, incorporated classic pedagogies such as Paulo Freire’s Popular Education, the Art of Leadership, and the Art of Hosting in her community-based learning course, SPA-344: Hosting the Community: Empowering Pedagogies for Societal Change. The first unit of the course consisted of studying texts and developing learning facilitation skills from the Art of Hosting, while the second unit involved community-based group research projects. Dwyer expressed her “passion of the co-creation of energy between teacher and student” to develop a new and enriching experience for all involved. She strives to create a semi-structured, malleable curriculum and allows each day to find its own path, depending on different ideas brought up that day. Dwyer says, “A lot of the times, [my ideas are] fueled from the students. A lot of people don’t work that way, but I feel very comfortable working in the unknown and shaping as I go.”

Dwyer suggests to colleagues making changes to their courses to ask students what is most useful for them, and to not be afraid of living in an uncertain space. She continues, “Don’t be afraid to co-create with students in the moment instead of saying, ‘this is what we’re going to do’”. One example of her experience with this teaching method was in the SPA-344 course in which she assigned a creative response to a reading instead of a traditional writing assignment. At first, the students were puzzled with such little guidance, but the assignment resulted in amazing products of creative interpretation. Dwyer continues to develop ties between Gustavus and various communities by holding Spanish lessons at St. Peter schools, Cambria, and through the Area Adult Learning Cooperative in St. Peter, Le Center, and Le Sueur. Dwyer explains that this engagement between students and community members fosters transcultural competence. She plans to continue incorporating teaching strategies from the aforementioned course to other courses in the department.


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