Gentry is a 1st year PhD student studying Music Education. Her research focuses on access and inclusion in music education and the use of Culturally Responsive Pedagogy to encourage students to feel both included and accepted. Gentry was recently awarded a Teaching Excellence Award based on her teaching philosophy and dedication to her students. We asked Gentry a few questions to learn more about her as a teacher and get to know her better. Read more below!
What is your favorite part about teaching?
My favorite part of teaching is the connections I make with students. I also love watching them grow and become more confident throughout the semester.
Please tell us a bit about your pedagogical philosophy.
Much of my pedagogical philosophy is based upon ensuring that students feel included, appreciated, and safe. A lot of my ideas are based in Culturally Responsive Pedagogy, which strives to create a classroom environment where the individual is valued for who they are and what they know. In my woodwind methods course, I encourage my students to draw from what they already know from their primary-instrument studies and use that knowledge to take on another instrument with confidence. I use my natural enthusiasm to help try to keep everyone awake at 8am, but also work to keep everyone calm when it gets close to midterms and finals. Being sensitive to student needs is something that is very important to me and I do my best to make sure my students feel seen and heard.
What is a favorite teaching resource you would like to share with other graduate teachers?
I highly recommend looking up Culturally Responsive Pedagogy--also known as Culturally Responsive Teaching. It has given me a new outlook on teaching!
What are your recommendations for continuing or increasing student advocacy and engagement?
Students are more engaged when they care about the class, and they usually care about the class more when they know the professor cares about them. Getting to know students helps in a myriad of ways, including being able to advocate for their needs on other levels.
Tell us a fun fact about you that is not related to your teaching and research.
I am an equestrian! I grew up competing in rodeos, then switched to dressage and jumping in my mid-twenties. I currently ride at a stable near Highlands Ranch and love every minute I get to spend with the horses.
What is a good book you have read recently and why did you enjoy it?
I just finished The Night Watchman by Louise Erdrich, which won the 2021 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Set in 1950s rural North Dakota, it tells the story of the lives of several Chippewa tribal members and events leading up to a "termination" bill that threatens to take away their rights to the land. It has a lot of stark imagery and really moving points of view from the Chippewa members.