Ask About It
Q&A with Dr. Ferial Pearson
Dr. Ferial Pearson is Assistant Professor in UNO's Teacher Education Department and founder of the Secret Kindness Agents Project.
Q: At what point in life did you make the decision to become a teacher?
I’ve always been a teacher, but didn’t realize it until my best friend pointed it out when I was trying to decide where to go for college. Once I started taking classes for my undergraduate teaching degree, I knew she was right.
Q: What does it mean to be a culturally responsive professional, and what does it take?
To be a culturally responsive educator, a person has to have the right knowledge, skills, and disposition. It takes knowing yourself and your own cultural lenses, understanding the cultural lenses and epistemology of your students, using that knowledge to make your content and pedagogy relevant and engaging in order to ensure the academic excellence of your students, and finally being critically conscious while helping your students become critically conscious too.
Q: What does mental health mean to you, and how does it impact the way you approach teaching?
It means everything to me and it makes me more sensitive and empathetic to the needs of my students. We cannot learn if our most basic needs are not taken care of. I ensure that my classes are comfortable, inclusive, respectful of all my students, and where differences are celebrated and recognized.