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Teaching & Courses

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching Statement

While working as an elementary teacher and reading specialist, I decided to pursue graduate studies to gain expertise in reading development and intervention. This transformed into a deep commitment to understanding and supporting students with disabilities; and subsequently, a passion for training teachers and special education leaders.

Having been trained in educational psychology, my philosophy of teaching is built upon a scientist-practitioner model. Commonly referenced in the training of clinical psychologists, this model highlights the dual role of being a practitioner who applies knowledge and a scientist who bases their activities on evidence. Even if an individual is solely engaged in application, they maintain a keen respect for research. 

Girl with Teacher
Teacher with Pupils

This model continues to guide much of my thinking as the training of future teachers and special education leaders must emphasize the continuous integration of empirical evidence into decision making. Over the years, I also began to consider parallels between teaching and learning in K-12 and college education. In my own research, I have applied the construct of working alliance to the study of teacher-student relationships. A working alliance refers to a collaborative relationship or partnership, where there are a consensus and willingness from both parties to engage in the process of learning and growth.

The teaching and learning process is collaborative by nature; thus, I create opportunities for students to provide regular feedback to foster a sense of ownership over our shared learning environment and the activities that occur within.

Learner Goals

The goals I communicate in all of my courses are for students to develop: (a) knowledge related to the content area, (b) skills needed to effectively apply this knowledge, and (c) the confidence that supports continued skill development and informed decision-making.

Most of my teaching is focused on methods of instruction and assessment in reading.

My personal goals as an instructor in those courses are for students to understand and appreciate that: 

All Teachers Must be Teachers of Reading

Regardless of the grade-level, setting, or population of students you end up working with. Literacy is, at its very core, an issue of educational equity. It crosses all content areas and it is the basis for the acquisition of knowledge.

The Teaching of Reading Must be

Informed by the Science of Reading

The goal of reading is to be able to understand the text. But this task is incredibly complex and often relies on the reader having access to the words in print. Learning the “code” is central to learning to read in alphabetic writing systems like English and it forms the foundation for all that comes later.

Reading Instruction Can (and Should be) Fun!

As a self-proclaimed word nerd, I love everything about reading—as an activity and as a scientific discipline. Not everyone does, and certainly, not all of our students will. That doesn’t mean reading instruction can’t be fun; that is an ongoing theme in a Toste class!

Teaching Awards

Teaching Awards

TEXAS 10 (2017)

The Texas 10 is an annual list, selected by the Alcalde magazine, of inspiring professors who were nominated by alumni for having made a lasting impact on their lives.

“Growing up, Jessica Toste was a self-proclaimed word nerd, completely infatuated with words of all forms (read more) . . ."

Photo by Matt Wright-Steel (2017)
Dr. Jessica Toste Headshot
Screen Shot 2020-09-07 at 12.49.47

Provost's Teaching Fellow

The Provost’s Teaching Fellows are a community of faculty leaders committed to improving teaching practice and campus culture at UT Austin. Fellows are selected from across all ranks, all Colleges and Schools, and from diverse disciplines. Fellows undertake an individual initiative to improve teaching and learning. Dr. Toste was selected to join the 2018 PTF cohort and now serves on the Steering Committee and as the Home Fellow for the College of Education.

College Teaching

College Teaching


The University of Texas at Austin 

Department of Special Education (2013 to present) 

  • Reading Methods

  • Reading Assessment & Development with Diverse Populations

  • Law & Disabilities (graduate) 

  • Trends & Issues in Learning Disabilities/Behavior Disorders (graduate)

  • Seminar in Behavior Disorders (graduate)

  • Instructional Adaptations I (graduate)


Vanderbilt University

Department of Special Education, Peabody College (2011-2013)

  • Instructional Principles & Procedures in Reading for Students with Disabilities 

McGill University

Department of Educational & Counselling Psychology (2007-2011)

  • Applications of Educational Psychology Across Classrooms (graduate) 

  • Field Work: Exceptional Students (graduate)

  • Clinical Practicum in Special Education (graduate)

  • Instruction in Inclusive Schools 

  • Students with Learning Difficulties 

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