Natalie Adams

Natalie Adams

Distinguished Teaching Fellow 2021-2024

Natalie Guice Adams is a professor in New College with a joint appointment in Social and Cultural Studies in Education in the College of Education. Her research focuses on the intersection of extracurricular activities in school, gender, race, and sexual identity, and popular culture. Dr. Adams formerly served as the Director of New College and the Assistant Director of UA’s Graduate School. She is serving her second term as the Chair of the Board of Directors for the David Mathews Center for Civic Life. In 2021, she was the recipient of the National Alumni Association’s Outstanding Commitment to Teaching Award. Dr. Adams has chaired over 20 dissertations and supervised dozens of independent study projects. She coordinates the Levitetz Leadership Program, which annually awards over $80,000 to UA students to develop their research, leadership, and entrepreneurial skills.

Dr. Adams teaches a range of graduate and undergraduate courses, including Social Issues and Ethics, Social Problems-Social Change, Seminar in the Social Foundations of Education, and Church, State, and the American Public School. Dr. Adams’s research on the social and cultural significance of cheerleading in American culture is featured in the highly popular Netflix docuseries Cheer.

Teaching Philosophy

My teaching philosophy is grounded in the foundational principle of New College: students learn best when they are actively engaged in the creation of their own curriculum, learning, and assessment. However, it is a philosophy I developed in my first career as a middle school teacher. Having a BS degree in English Education and a master’s in Gifted Education coupled with a nine-year stint in a middle school classroom, I have taken many courses in teaching methods, educational psychology, evaluation and assessment, and the social context of learning. My teaching philosophy has changed little from my early days of teaching adolescents because at the heart of effective learning is good teaching, and sound teaching and learning principles transcend age and discipline. In short, my teaching philosophy is focused on students first and foremost and incorporates these simple, but powerful, core values:

  • Different students learn differently.
  • Students learn best when they connect content to personal experience.
  • Students deserve to have a teacher passionate about teaching and learning, committed to helping students thrive, and prepared every time they walk into the classroom.
  • The role of the teacher as facilitator and co-creator of knowledge is to help students think critically and creatively about complex issues and problems. This requires creating a learning environment in which all students feel safe, welcomed, and valued.

My teaching philosophy governs my interactions with students, the content I present, and my teaching methods for every class and group of students I encounter. It requires me to be flexible, adaptable, and self-reflexive because what works with one class one semester may totally bomb the next semester. For some students, I merely need to be the sage on the stage; for others, I must be their nurturing cheerleader and guide; for others, their stern parent and critic, and for some, an avid listener, counselor, and therapist.