Patricia Maslin-Ostrowski

Teaching Philosophy

It is not linguistic accident that “building,” “construction,” “work,” designate both a process and its finished product. Without the meaning of the verb that of the noun remains blank. - Dewey (1934, p. 51)

My approach to teaching and learning draws on learner-centered and collaborative, andragogic frameworks to provide enriching educational experiences that facilitate students’ learning and growth. I endeavor to co-create a nurturing, safe, and stimulating learning community where students can pause and reflect, think, create new ideas, and apply ideas to their work by actively engaging with the materials, their peers, and me. Always aware of John Dewey, my courses are carefully constructed to respect both how students learn and what knowledge is mastered. Upshot, I care about students and their education, and treasure the gift of learning together so that, ultimately, our collective work will make a bit of a difference in the world.

My teaching intertwines with what I study. Two core beliefs guide my research and scholarship agenda: a) leadership like learning is both a highly communal and personal undertaking; and b) research about schools and leadership is best done in context. I focus my research activity on the preparation and professional growth and development of leaders, the wellbeing of leaders, and shining a brighter light on the internal side of leadership—the social-emotional and developmental elements that influence leaders’ experiences and ways of managing challenges. A series of phenomenological studies formed the basis of the wounded leader line of inquiry and have since become the foundation for a research agenda that centers on the inter-intrapersonal and emotional dimensions of leadership, and the quest for more effective policy and practice to support the essential work of educational leaders, pre-K-20 globally.

The complicated, adaptive challenges that school leaders, higher education leaders and educational leadership faculty face in-the-midst of current demands to shape and sustain more equitable learning contexts and raise all student voices, often require new capacities and new knowledge for exercising leadership. This brings about urgent calls for redesigning coursework, refining educational leadership programs and assisting practitioners to be equipped to construct new knowledge and develop new capacities while addressing complex challenges of leading educational institutions today. These are driving forces behind my scholarship and teaching. This speaks to what I teach and why, and what I privilege in the curriculum.

How I teach and design a course, is based on constructivist education that regards learning as a process of active and deliberate engagement on the part of learners (Perkins, 2010). This means I intentionally create varied learning opportunities that embed discussion and reflection, so that students may be active learners, whereby they are actively constructing knowledge not passively absorbing from the class environment (Piaget, 1980). Research informs that I will encounter developmental diversity among students in my university classrooms (and everywhere); they will make sense of their experiences in developmentally different ways (Kegan, 1982; Drago-Severson, 2004). Keeping this in mind, I utilize differentiated practices in conjunction with a mix of supports and challenges (scaffolding) to serve as a fertile learning space supportive of students’ diverse needs. With a flow of dialogue and critique pulsing back and forth between students, between teacher and leaners, and so forth, our class experience has the potential to be transformed into a lively learning community.

I deeply cherish the work and learning with my students.


Dewey, J. (1934). Art as Experience. NY: GP Putnam’s Sons.

Drago-Severson, E. (2004). Becoming adult learners: Principles and practices for effective development. New York: Teachers College Press.

Kegan, R. (1982). The evolving self: Problems and process in human development. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Perkins, D. (2010). Making Learning Whole: How Seven Principles of Teaching Can Transform Education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Piaget, J. (1980). Experiments in contradiction. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Patricia Maslin-Ostrowski

Dr. Patricia Maslin-Ostrowski

Professor, Educational Leadership and Research Methodology
Department of Educational Leadership and Research Methodology

Office Phone: 561-297-3550
Office Location: ES BC52 - 213
Campus: Davie