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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Pedagogy and Passion


February 27, 2024


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I remember my nerves as I stood in front of a class full of eager and unfamiliar faces for the first time as a pedagogy resident to present a portion of the class that I had enthusiastically signed up for. The topic, ironically, was explaining the Zones of Regulation which is a social-emotional learning curriculum using coloured zones to represent feelings or emotions like blue for feelings of sadness or boredom, green for happiness, calm and pride and red for terrified, panic or elation etc. Oh boy was I feeling RED!

As I began explaining the topic, adding my stories and experiences from working as an OT back in India and solving the case study with the class, I felt comfortable and at ease. I felt myself moving to another coloured zone. After my bit, I remember my preceptor gleamingly saying ‘You look as though you belong there, the students love you and find you very relatable’. Looking back now, I think that I was in the green zone. As I delve into my experiences, reflections, and the invaluable lessons I’ve learned along the way as a pedagogy resident here at Chan, my inner child is ecstatic and so grateful.

My mum, who has been a teacher for her whole life, often says that teaching is in my blood and takes full credit for this. There’s a profound truth to what she says because growing up in an environment where education was not just a profession but a way of life, I couldn’t help but be inspired by the passion, dedication, and unwavering commitment to nurturing young minds. While she may take full credit for this, her influence on me transcends mere conscious awareness — it’s a deeply ingrained part of who I am and how I perceive the world.

From the earliest days of my childhood, I was surrounded by the echoes of her and her teacher friends’ classroom tales. Through her actions, she taught me the value of patience, empathy, and resilience — qualities that are indispensable for anyone aspiring to become an educator. Yet, it wasn’t just her overt acts of teaching or the very strong influences of my own teachers that left an impression on me; it was the subtle nuances, the everyday interactions, and the unspoken lessons that shaped my understanding of what it means to inspire and empower others.

My mom and I in our elements, photographed 10 years apart

Pictured here: My mom and I in our elements, photographed 10 years apart.

From the outset, my residency at USC Chan was driven by this deep-seated passion for education and academia. I firmly believe that teaching is not merely a profession but a calling — a conduit through which we empower others to realize their full potential. At USC Chan, this ethos is palpable, permeating every aspect of the division’s pedagogical approach. One of the most striking aspects of my residency was the emphasis on collaborative learning where educators, students, and practitioners converge to exchange ideas, challenge assumptions, and co-create innovative teaching methodologies. Whether through faculty meetings, seminars, my faculty mentors, or small group discussions, I found myself constantly enriched by the collective wisdom of my peers.

Throughout my residency, I was challenged to reflect on my teaching methodologies, solicit feedback from students and teaching teams, and iterate upon my approaches in pursuit of continuous improvement. In doing so, I not only refined my pedagogical techniques but also deepened my understanding of the transformative power of education. I had a newfound appreciation and regard for the subtlety of labor that goes into curriculum development, classroom management and lectures.

I am filled with gratitude for the myriad experiences, challenges, and insights that have shaped my growth as an educator. From collaborative learning environments to inclusive pedagogical practices, from experiential learning opportunities to reflective practice, from nerves to knowledge, each facet of my residency continues to leave an indelible mark on my professional journey. I continue to embrace the lessons learned and nurture the belief that education, like occupation, is not merely a means to an end but a quest of discovery, empowerment, and transformation.

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