"Christensen is unlike any other professor. Rather than teach specific material, he teaches you to think. Without his classes, I would never have developed the critical analysis skills which are so crucial to helping me succeed in my life."
-student review from Skyline College, 2013
A Teaching Philosophy
"I believe in good teaching.
I believe in the promise and reward of sound instruction because I’ve seen what it can do for my students on the best days. I've taught in many different places since 1995, and that belief in the promise of great teaching has never waned.
A reverence for the process of learning passed on to me by my own mentors while at the University of Oregon and in the Critical Studies program at California Institute of Arts has laid the foundation for how I’ve approached my practice ever since. To understand a given teaching problem is also to envision the smartest, most intuitive solution.
My teaching experience in various graduate and undergraduate programs for the last 15 years has taught me the importance of asking the right questions so as to fully understand the problem at hand – its practical implications, whom it affects, what its limitations are, what kinds of solutions are possible. This is all foundational to how I approach my work as a designer and instructor, and it's where good curriculum and instructional design comes from.
Degrees in critical writing and arts pedagogy, poetry and literature have given me the grounding in history and theory I’ve leaned on for years as a writing instructor. More recent certifications in reading pedagogy and instructional design have reinforced the value of conceptual thinking and creative problem solving.
The through line that connects all of these settings and learners and resources has been a consistent focus on building collaborative, learner centered spaces where teaching real skills with energy and innovation to better engage my students is the priority and the goal.
Correctly assessing student need, creating the right kind of responsive instruction, and articulating clear expectations - these are the keys to successful outcomes and transformative learning experiences. That's always what I'm after.
If everything goes right, I end up with more confident and better prepared students, and more of them. This is the intrinsic value of what I do, and it's why I keep coming back, building courses that offer richer learning experiences and more enlightened instruction.
I believe in good teaching."
a little more about me..
I am currently on the faculty at three Bay Area schools: Skyline and Ohlone Colleges, and the graduate College of Business at San Francisco State University. I've taught language and reading, instructional pedagogy, developmental writing, composition & literature, and business communication here and abroad, going all the way back to my first peer tutoring gig at a college writing center in 1995.
My family and I live in Oakland where we try to take advantage of the beaches, parks, and performance scene as much as we can when we're not busy ferrying our son to various practices or antagonizing his cousin.
I attended community college in Santa Cruz and then went on to study poetry and theory at the University of Oregon and writing and arts pedagogy in the Critical Studies program at California Institute of the Arts in Los Angeles.
Although writing and teaching remain my twin passions, some of my other lives have included acting in regional theater, cruise ship engine room work in Hawaii, firefighting in the central Sierra, river guiding across the western U.S., and Peace Corps service in Mongolia.