Critical Pedagogy and the Classroom Community

Creating a classroom community can feel like a lofty, even elusive process—one that sometimes seems based entirely on the individual students who appear in our classes each semester. This track considers the building of a classroom community as a critical praxis, guided by the optimism of bell hooks and Parker Palmer. hooks describes issues of love, power, and justice as she considers community in the classroom, “a place that is life-sustaining and mind-expanding, a place of liberating mutuality where teacher and student together work in partnership.” Palmer notes that approaches to building community are as unique as teachers themselves: “Community, or connectedness, is the principle behind good teaching, but different teachers with different gifts create community in surprisingly diverse ways, using widely divergent methods.” How a theoretically-informed practice of community-building might work for each of us in our unique teaching contexts will be our driving question.

This track examines our development of teacher-student relationships as well as our course designs as two doorways into the community-building endeavor. It invites participants to reflect on their existing philosophies and practices, as well as their pedagogic strengths (Palmer’s “gifts”), in order to imagine possibilities and methods for building community in both face-to-face and digital learning environments.

Some questions this course will address are:

  • What constitutes a community? What does community look like in our classrooms?
  • How do our current pedagogies and course designs support or stifle community?
  • What broader institutional or systemic issues do we need to address or work with/around for our classrooms to become communities?
  • How do we ensure that our communities are inclusive, equitable, and just?

This track is ideal for:



Coming soon


Jessica Zeller
Jessica Zeller is an Associate Professor of Dance in the TCU School for Classical & Contemporary Dance.
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