Teaching

Drawing from my training in adult education, Montessori pedagogy and Freirean philosophy, each of my courses create intersections between (1) disciplinary learning, (2) pedagogical/andragogical practice, and (3) relevance for student/communities in Kazakhstan and internationally. In other words, I emphasize experiential learning, collaborative learning, and real-world application.

As one of the first team of faculty at the research-intensive, Nazarbayev University (Kazakhstan), each course was fully developed from scratch, being the first of its kind taught in the country. Project outcomes encourage students to provide a practical outcome that could be useful for others. To focus on the learning instead of concern for assessment, I have instituted a gradeless classroom, where feedback and multiple revisions are expected for student mastery. Students consistently comment on the positive learning environment developed in the course and frequently share about how this type of pedagogical practice has affected their own teaching.

In multiple cases, students have gone on to present outcomes of their coursework at workshops, conferences, and publish in international journals. The following section includes some highlights of teaching practices, student projects, and feedback.

Sample Courses & Outcomes

Qualitative Research – As a required course for all MSc students in educational leadership, it provides an overview of research methods as a whole and delves into qualitative research. The course provides hands-on practice with various methodologies and often incorporates a real-world project to address within the campus. Example topics have included: a gender audit of student clubs, analysis of visual imagery within the campus, and family-friendly campus-life.

Graduate students worked for many months to translate their classroom learning and data collection from qualitative research methods into an article for the American Journal of Qualitative Research

Innovative Research Methods – As an elective course for graduate students, this course provides a way to delve into innovative and creative research methods. Embedded within the course design are collaborative learning activities and a cooperative learning environment providing students both with opportunities to learn practical research methods for implementation in their theses and also innovative pedagogical practices. Final projects have involved workshop development, blog posts (e.g., Medium), and arts-based projects.

Perspectives of Teacher Education – This interdisciplinary course explores issues and perspectives on postsecondary education in the Kazakhstani and international contexts. Topics include: shifts in policy and practice for postsecondary educators, professional development and pre-service postsecondary education training, and the sociocultural contexts that shape, influence, and constraints of learning and teaching in higher and postsecondary contexts. The aims of this course are three-fold: (1) to expand students’ mindset about sociocultural issues of education about the world of higher and post-secondary education through hands-on and reflective practice, (2) to learn about collaborative methods of teaching, and (3) to disseminate information on sociocultural issues of higher education to a Kazakhstani and international audience (e.g., developing a course website to share information, newsletter, social media).

One group of students created a newsletter based upon their course work within a Gender Forum. The newsletter was later disseminated across the University and throughout The Consortium of Gender Scholars network.


Workplace Learning – In this required graduate-level course, students deeply learn about the various ways in which an academic workplace (e.g., secondary school, higher education institution) functions. As a follow-up course to an Internship Project, students develop an organizational and needs analysis. Based on their findings and in collaboration with the organization/institution, students implement a project. As such, students have created workshops, training modules for teachers and students, lesson plans, and presented on their work including in publications.

Graduate students from the Workplace Learning course published about the project they developed to support English language learning for Kazakh and Russian students. Using WhatsApp texting groups, they found Near Peer Role Models facilitated language learning.

Early Childhood Education – In this course, graduate students were introduced to philosophies of early childhood education while engaged in experiential learning. Students developed a wiki to disseminate information about early childhood education in three languages (English, Kazakh, and Russian) and developed group projects. One output included a video thank you from a student, Assima. The transcript of the video is included below:

Following the innovativeness of the early childhood education course including the development of the first Wikispaces website within Kazakhstan, Assima created a short video of appreciation. She describes developing new ways of thinking and learning from innovative experiences and praxis. The following is the transcript of the video:
 
“This is Assima, your student from ECE course that we recently had at NU. The reason I am videotaping this is to express all the gratitude to you for providing us with wonderful, challenging, and mind changing course. I am extremely thankful to you for including the course both theoretical and practical parts. This is what I especially liked about the course. But it didn’t only consist of theory but we could apply our knowledge from books and from discussions and from your explanations on practice.
 
Visiting kindergartens and preschool centers was an experience unlike any I have had in other courses. Like I said to you and to other groupmates earlier, when choosing the course, I had no idea of what the course would be like, and I had had no interest before I had enrolled in the course, but later on, having had myself exposed to a lot of information on children education through readings, through group discussions, and through presentations and lesson observations we had at wonderful schools like Haileybury, QSI, Zebra Montessori, Montessori Kindergartens, I have really understood the importance of ECE education in building and maintaining educated and intelligent society.

I have also learned a variety of approaches and teaching strategies and techniques that I am really, really
excited to apply 
to my program and diploma program classes at NIS IB school. 
 
Overall the session was very intensive, challenging and mind altering
 
As I said earlier, when I was choosing the course, I didn’t see myself enjoying this particular course because I had no interest and never considered myself working in ECE or considered myself studying anything related to ECE, but now I have changed my mind. I have realized its importance and I think that all that wouldn’t have happened without your efforts and your contributions, and your course. 
 
Thank you so, so much for that. I really hope that the courses you have in the future with your students will be as challenging, as thought provoking, and informativeand as joyousto attend as it was with us. So, thank you so much Professor Anna. I wish you good luck with whatever you do to improve early childhood education and education system overall. And I look forward to attend your other courses in the future. Thank you so much! Bye!”