My philosophy of teaching is based on discovery, dialogue, and cultural inquiry. In my classes, I encourage students to perform and examine different roles: the researcher, the author, the partner, the attentive listener. I invite students to trust their unique authorial voices by questioning cultural standards we take for granted (for instance: what counts as “literature” or how we define authoritative sources). The most frequent comments I receive in student evaluations are that I am enthusiastic, energetic, and that I care deeply about the readings we discuss in class.
I am not ashamed to let students know that I am always trying out new ideas to learn about what can make me a better teacher. My students engage most in the class when they take over their own learning process. I assign students to perform independent research, asking the class to consider the role of traditional scholarship in the face of digital self-publishing tools like blogs and social networks. In my literature classes, I ask students to compare early modern ephemera like newsbooks and ballads to tabloids and reality shows, formulating our own definitions of popular culture across historical contexts. I balance interactive activities with quizzes, lectures followed by discussion, and one-on-one conference appointments. As students engage in a variety of learning methods, I challenge each student to define and describe which methods are most effective, and why. In my Shakespeare class, students read scenes out loud and we discuss the differences between performing, watching, and reading plays. In composition classes, I assign students to design resources tailored to fellow students in their major, while in literature classes I encourage them to share annotations of primary texts. These activities allow students to see each other as colleagues and collaborators, and not simply as individuals enrolled in the same course.
I am deeply invested in curricular development activities and discussions of pedagogical approaches. As a long-time instructor of composition at Wayne State, I became proficient with a variety of approaches, including Writing Across the Curriculum (WAC) and Writing About Writing (WAW). At York College, I strive to apply digital technologies to the study of writing and literature, designing courses that engage students in creating digital editions, tweeting questions about the readings, and presenting original artwork. I especially enjoy planning group projects, where students use technology like blogs and videos to teach the class about new discoveries or studies in their major. These activities allow students to learn about specific discourse communities in their field and teach them to share their knowledge with a broader audience.
I try to make my classes as engaging and culturally relevant as possible, so I invite my students to draw connections between our assigned readings and shows, films, or articles they have seen or read outside of class. For example, I design assignments where students get to cast a new adaptation of Doctor Faustus (1604); compare early modern title-pages with the covers of our modern critical editions; and post study-guides of plays online. In my Shakespeare classes, I enjoy showing contemporary adaptations of our readings, ranging from graphic novels like Kill Shakespeare (2010) to teen-oriented movies like Tim Blake Nelson’s O (2001). These adaptations show students that the texts we study remain meaningful for artists of their generation and inspire them to make their own personal interpretations. I employ digital pedagogy approaches to engage students in the production and sharing of knowledge, introducing students both to foundational tools like the Oxford English Dictionary Online as well as data gathering methods like word clouds and visualization maps. Online projects provide students with a real-life audience, allowing them to become aware of the relevance of the work we do in class. I like to remind students that cultural studies expand beyond the United States into other cultures, beliefs, and literatures. I am proud to share with my classes my own multicultural background as a bilingual learner and former exchange student, and encourage them to talk to me about exchange programs and language-learning opportunities. I start every semester with a discussion about how texts, contexts, and ethnic identity deeply influence the way we communicate with and respond to others. These discussions invite students to reflect on and respond to the ways language has the power to unite, alienate, or call people to action.