From the first day of school, I prioritize building a sense of trust and community in the classroom. It is important that students feel comfortable taking risks and making mistakes as they are learning. It is also important that students know they belong and are valued members of the classroom community.
My approach to language teaching is inspired by Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) methods. I believe that significant language learning happens through real, authentic, and meaningful interactions and experiences. I use a variety of activities such as dialogues, information gaps, and experiential learning to facilitate active learning and keep things fun. I am energetic, enthusiastic, and passionate about my job. I encourage students to be active agents of their learning.
I recognize and appreciate the diversity of learners that exists in every classroom. In order to create an inclusive learning environment, I turn to Universal Design for Learning guidelines. I diversify how I present material. I use scaffolding techniques to combine the introduction of new learning with students’ prior knowledge. I work to make lessons uniquely changing and adequately challenging, according to students’ needs and learning objectives. I constantly evaluate and assess student learning, informally and formally, in order to adapt my teaching. Above all, I maintain positive expectations for all students. Students in my classroom are fully aware of my passion for teaching, as well as my enthusiasm for their success.
My personal journey towards developing awareness and skills related to diversity and equity include: becoming more aware of my own identity and how my lived experiences shape who I am; learning more about my colleagues and students and how their identities and experiences shape them; and learning more about equity issues, especially those related to structural racism.
I have been fortunate to participate in several trainings that have helped me in this learning process, such as: UW’s Undocu-Ally training to learn about the experiences of undocumented students; Leading with Racial Equity for Structural Transformation Workshop to learn about my own and others’ positions of advantages and disadvantages; Cultural Proficiency for Social Justice Training to explore intersections of identities; Mental Health First Aid Training and Forefront Suicide Prevention to learn about less-visible disabilities, and to assist students with mental health, self-care, and suicide awareness.
I recognize that facets of my social identity have provided me privilege in U.S. society. It is my responsibility to learn how this privilege contributes to marginalization of people, and how I can actively work against this. I am currently focussing on how I can incorporate antiracism in my teaching and advising. One way that I do so is to flatten the hierarchy by positioning myself as a learner alongside students, providing space for every student to have a voice, and to recognize that students’ voices come in different forms, not just spoken. I am also learning to recognize spaces where it is not my place to speak but rather to listen, then to take action.
In my work as a teacher and adviser, I take measures to establish trust and foster a sense of belonging, and to let students know they are welcome and respected in my office and classroom. I learn the pronouns students use, as well as preferred names, and I use inclusive language in our communication. Over the fifteen years that I have worked in higher education, I have had several opportunities to serve students from diverse backgrounds at various points in their academic journey, and I am mindful of the social and economic challenges that students face. One important aspect of equity is to recognize that not all students have had the same opportunities. I listen to where students are “at” and try to connect students with the resources they need.
In my current position with UW’s Scandinavian Studies Department, I am proud to have contributed to the conversations around access and equity, and inclusion, and to advocate for students when needed. In my courses, I incorporate literature by non-white authors such as Jason Dikité, Jonas Khemiri, Athena Farrokhzad; and scholars who bring up questions around identity and belonging what it means to be Swedish such as Selma Lagerlöf, Rosa Taikon, and Ylva Habel. I also encourage students to reflect and share about their own identities.
Classes are always fun and engaging!
Thank you for everything!!! You are truly one of the best (if not the best) instructor I’ve had at UW. Your energy and love for the subject helps students learn so much.
Everyday I learned something new.
Everyday Kim challenged us which I think is really important when learning a language.
This class was a highlight of my 2020 pandemic year. I appreciate that I was challenged and that Kim was encouraging as we navigated language acquisition in a virtual setting!
I think the variety in types of class lessons from lectures to group work to talking with Swedes was really helpful.
I appreciated the varied learning activities, from making videos, to reading books, to writing, to speaking with native speaker!
I felt comfortable making mistakes, which was really helpful. I tried my best, of course, but it was understood that I wasn’t going to do everything perfectly and that was okay!
Kim really cares for us- keep that compassion! We notice and appreciate it.
This language course uses multiple methods for teaching/understanding Swedish. We listen, write, speak, watch media relevant to current events in Sweden, work in groups, and have the opportunity to do Nordic-related community events in Seattle. This dynamic combination of events, opportunities, written, oral and group work ensures that all students have at least one channel through which to deeply absorb the material. It is highly interactive.
My Swedish has made massive improvements and i’ve learned more about language as a whole.
The greatest asset to the class, in my opinion, was the instructor herself. She is very welcoming and actively helpful, and she makes it fun.
Kim’s enthusiasm and understanding of the diversity of skills sets between students was exceptional .
This interdisciplinary study abroad program will explore concepts of justice in medieval Scandinavia and modern Sweden; as well as an introduction to Nordic languages. We will reflect on questions around power structures, access to justice, norms, cultural identity, and intersections with gender, class, race, climate, and religion. We will use contemporary Swedish literature and film, especially those considered or inspired by “Nordic Noir”, to learn about modern Swedish culture and society. We will also examine medieval saga literature and law codes as a window into the cultural history of medieval Scandinavia from the Viking Age to the late Middle Ages. Situating our program in Sweden will provide opportunities for rich and unique experiential learning such as site visits, field trips, guest lectures. Course assignments will include reflective writing, group discussions, and co-created blogs. There are no prerequisites for this program. Although we will introduce you to the language, English is widely accepted in Sweden.
Kim Kraft and Lauren Poyer
In 2019, I co-directed the following study abroad program: Honors Sweden: The Question of Rights: Looking to Sweden as a Global Model. This was an interdisciplinary study abroad program exploring how Sweden’s advancement of human rights continues to influence global human rights norms and wield enormous influence internationally. Through the lens of Sweden as a “norm entrepreneur” country, students examined Sweden’s innovative human rights policies on LGBTI rights and gender equality. Additionally, the program introduced students to Swedish authors and filmmakers whose work has reached beyond the Nordic borders with global impact. Photos from the program are below.
Program Leadership: Kim Kraft and Dr. Elise Rainer