My teaching philosophy centers around three core principles: a pedagogy of care; diversity and accessibility in teaching; and reading and writing as self-making. Taken together, these principles mean that my teaching is based in practices of care and connection to students, privileges diversity of thought, identity, and expression, and understands the critical work of learning as inextricable from self-development, reflection and growth. Overall, my teaching philosophy is informed by women of color feminisms and the conviction that education is inextricable from liberation struggles and envisioning a more just and equitable world.
Pedagogy of Care:
A pedagogy of care implies a student-centered approach to teaching that foregrounds social, academic, and personal wellness of learners. Particularly with the switch to emergency remote teaching in spring 2020, I have adopted practices of resilient teaching by incorporating flexibility into my course design, evaluation criteria, and student interaction. Engaging with resilient teaching also implies teaching resilience, or facilitating students’ ability to adapt to unprecedented and highly fluctuating circumstances. Overall, I work to develop a classroom community of trust and support, where students feel empowered to share their convictions, be challenged on them, and learn from their intellectual endeavors.
Diversity & Accessibility in Teaching:
I define diversity in teaching as facilitating the meaningful participation from individuals of diverse backgrounds including race and ethnicity, religion, gender and sexuality, nationality, social class, age, sexual orientation, and ability. I encourage students to share their personal connections to the course material and thereby highlight how they might differ from their peers. I also encourage students to consider their perspectives and claims relationally, or inherently informed by others in their communities, homes, and personal spheres. As a humanities scholar, I consider the literature classroom as fundamentally a provocation to consider an other’s mind, and reevaluate one’s opinion in light of such knowledge. As such, I see my work as an instructor as deeply informed by practices of mutual interest, peer-to-peer engagement, and respectful exchange.
Relatedly, I believe that gaining expertise in teaching both face-to-face and fully online courses is central to my commitment to accessibility and equity in higher education. Regarding the latter, studies show that students who cannot access traditional higher education, whether for geographic or economic reasons, considerably benefit from online course delivery. Also when recognizing how prohibitively expensive and debt-laden college has become for the majority of learners in the United States, I believe that online course delivery is an effective method for confronting some of the structural exclusions of the traditional university structure.
Finally, through my experiences as a teaching instructor for incarcerated learners at two prisons within the NCDPS system, I have been able to develop highly adaptable and streamlined teaching materials suitable to a completely analog environment. Since students are unable to communicate with instructors outside of instruction hours, I have learned how to fine tune teaching materials and build in the clarity, consistency and organization of an introductory rhetoric and composition course. Overall, I consider teaching such non-traditional college students as central to a feminist commitment to confronting structural and institutionalized oppressions and personal belief in the social good of lifelong learning and communal inquiry.
Reading and writing as self-making.
As a humanities thinker, I understand the processes of reading and writing about literature and other media as deeply connected to processes of self-affirmation and self-construction. I see student progression through course material as key to their development as not only active learners, but active participants in their local, national and global communities. Overall, I consider reading and communicating about literary and cultural arts necessary to the development of the next generation of thoughtful, well-informed, and compassionate leaders.