Innovative Pedagogy Interview

Viviana Alexandrowicz, Associate Professor, Teaching and Learning

Photo of Viviana Alexandrowicz

Walking the Walk  

For Dr. Viviana Alexandrowicz, Associate Professor in the School of Leadership and Education Sciences, teaching is not just about “talking the talk,” it’s about “walking the walk” and standing in solidarity with our students.  How can we encourage our students to move forward with an empowering conception of their own citizenship? It all starts with framing an empathetic classroom environment.

 Interested in learning more? Check out the interview below for further insight.

 The basics: what’s your story?

 The fact that I am a second language learner helps me share with my students many experiences I have had as a second language learner in my methods courses and culture, language, and literacy courses. I have first hand experience with feeling “unable” or perceived as “not capable” due to limited English and I can provide many specific examples of struggling to get an education in a second language. I believe that content and strategies are important in preparing new teachers, but even more critical is the development of empathy, compassion, and looking at children and their families as assets instead of deficits.

 Why is this your chosen field?

My father used to tell me that education was the most valuable gift he could give me and that no one could take away from me. I tell my students who will be teachers that by positively affecting the life of one child, adolescent, or adult, you are not only helping change the life of one person but instead are impacting hundreds of people in future generations. It is about education and opportunity and for many it is the only way to break the “family cycle” for example in terms of lack of access. I believe that every semester I am on a mission to help transform the minds and hearts of my students so they see themselves as agents of change.

What is the most Changemaker transformation in education today?

A key transformation is that more teachers and schooling institutions are creating opportunities for students to see that their contributions as human beings are bigger than themselves. More students now are in schools and teachers who are encouraging them to see their work beyond theory and practice but instead take action for social change in whatever discipline they will decide to commit to. For example, I observe our student teachers implementing meaningful project- based lessons where they collaborate to solve issues such as bullying or contamination by using math, language, or scientific skills. I believe that this is the direction that education will continue taking in the next years.

 What is your proudest career moment?

 Other than achieving my educational goals, one of my proudest career moments is being able to work our community of Linda Vista to provide access to courses to leaders in our community thought our Open U Initiative. This project has added a new meaning to collaborating and two-way learning for me. By bringing participants as community experts we are not only providing participants with access to college but we are enriching on our USD students’ education and broadening their perspectives of life.

 Where can we find you outside of the classroom?

 I love the outdoors. You can find me going for bike rides around the lake or the Bay, going to the beach, snorkeling and skiing. I enjoy listening to music and eating multicultural foods. If I do any of these with my family, even better!