How I went from a shy student to an expert facilitator helping educators to change the world.
I was the student in the back of the classroom avoiding eye contact with the professor.
I had done the reading. I had smart ideas. But I was scared of being put on the spot to speak.
One on one? My personality shined!
But speaking in class? Ugh!
Talking to strangers? No thank you.
New social situations? Awwwwkward!
I. Was. Shy.
But I had a bold vision.
From a young age, I knew I wanted to make the world more fair, kind, and just. I was committed to being bold in service of social change.
As I grew older and my understanding of social injustice became more sophisticated, I knew staying quiet wasn't going to serve my vision.
This commitment was going to require me to speak.
So what was a shy, introverted girl like me to do?
I had to find my voice.
My courageous speaking transformation started in graduate school.
I nervously read aloud my papers in class, awkwardly facilitated seminar discussions, and begrudgingly presented my work at conferences, clinging for dear life to my script.
I gained experience speaking, got better little by little, and grew more confident.
But I was making it up as I went along. No one taught me how to be a courageous speaker.
I taught myself.
I discovered my assumptions about introversion and confidence were all wrong.
At the same time I was developing my voice, I was researching, theorizing, and writing about oppression and standardized language instruction.
One day, my scholarship and my personal practice merged into a single, life-changing discovery:
While nervously presenting a status-quo-disrupting argument at a conference, I was exhilarated to find an engaged audience of both sympathetic and resistant folks.
I experienced the thrill of being able to move people with my words.
And from that moment on, I was hooked.
I could be an introvert and speak prolifically.
I could feel nervous and still speak truth to power.
I could leave behind my identity as someone who hated speaking and take on a new identity as a courageous and effective speaker.
And those realizations deeply informed the kind of educator I wanted to be.
I wanted to teach students to use their own voices courageously to disrupt oppression and to pursue their dreams.
I wanted to teach to change the world.
I became an award-winning educator by mastering best practices in class facilitation
With my newfound conviction, I sought out every opportunity available to present my work and to teach students.
There was no road map. I had to piece together strategies to develop public speaking courage, cultivate a holistic classroom facilitation practice, and engage the kind of social justice pedagogy I imagined.
I had to learn through my own intensive research, from mentorship by several radical professors, and through trial and error in the classroom.
That hard work led to a lot of successes. It became the foundation for my dissertation. It earned me a university-wide graduate teaching award.
But I had an equal number of sleepless nights stressed out about how to translate theory into practice to make my teaching more just.
I had much more to learn.
I became a truly transformative educator when I embraced my introversion as a gift.
Across the next two decades, I enjoyed a fulfilling career as an educator and public speaker, teaching in college classrooms, directing communication programs, and founding an education-based nonprofit.
In addition to my continued pedagogical research, I gained invaluable experience through life-changing connections with students.
My students took me at my word when I was clear about my values, and in doing so challenged me and taught me how to be more radical in my teaching practice. They compelled me to leap out of the world of theory and into the heart of praxis.
I became bolder and more skilled as a facilitator committed to social justice because I cultivated a tool even more vital than courageous speaking. A tool that shy, introverted me hadn't even realized was already my superpower:
I cultivated a critical pedagogy.
With time, I found language for my philosophy.
My teaching is not prescriptive (I don't believe there is one "right" way to facilitate, communicate, or learn). But I do believe education is inherently political, and our choices as teachers and students actively promote, passively enable, or courageously resist injustice.
I am guided by a radical love-based teaching philosophy (I am deeply inspired by critical education theorists such as Paulo Freire and bell hooks), and I offer processes for aligning radical values with tangible methods.
By providing concrete instruction, leading with empathy, and modeling conviction and humility, I send my students off feeling confident to lead and promote change in their unique contexts.
In a word, I am obsessed with the critical interplay of theory and practice:
Throughout my career, I have developed a reputation as a visionary and transformative scholar, educator, and leader.
I became an expert on group facilitation and the intersections of language, power, and education, with a particular focus on race and gender.
I have worked to build transformative communities that disrupt oppression and create justice and peace.
While my efforts have earned me many awards, my greatest joy has been observing how my students' lives have been transformed through their experiences with me and with the communities we've built, and how they in turn are going out into the world to make change.
My students are my greatest teachers.
I believe in the power of voice, the importance of connection, and the radical promise of community building.
I understand how challenging it can be to facilitate meaningful class discussions that reach every student and get everyone talking while also trying to recognize biases, interrupt microaggressions, and build community when you feel nervous speaking and you haven't yet learned best practices.
I also know how transformative it can be--for facilitators and students--to experience the humanizing connection that comes from powerful facilitation.
Creating "Facilitation with Laura Greenfield, Ph.D." has been a natural next step in my own journey.
I want to help you develop confidence and skills to lead class discussions where students are inspired to speak up, to explore difficult questions, and to change the world together.
And I want you to have all the advantages I didn't have--a comprehensive set of resources, a clear process, and a mentor and community with you every step of the way.
I truly believe transformative facilitation contributes to the work of resisting oppression and healing the planet, and it would be an honor to support you in your vital role.
"I can think of no one better qualified to guide instructors in facilitating empathic, socially just class discussions. Laura Greenfield's work with colleagues and students, as well as her books and articles, are models of social justice praxis." - Kathleen Shine Cain
Enough about me...
let's talk about you!
You are an expert in your field.
You are a gifted and caring educator.
You yearn to reach and honor every student.
You want your class discussions to be engaging and meaningful.
You are deeply concerned about leading in ways that are inclusive and equitable.
You also get nervous speaking sometimes.
You find yourself stuck when students aren't talking... or one student is talking too much.
You don't have a solid backup plan if discussions don't go as you'd hoped.
You want to recognize bias, respond effectively to microaggressions, and promote justice, but you're not always sure how.
You're intuitively a great teacher, but you never learned best practices for facilitating class discussions.
You are ready to transform your career and the learning opportunities for your students by developing a purposeful facilitation pedagogy.
You are ready to take the first step.