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Teaching Experience | Pedagogical Approach

Courses Taught

  • First Year Composition 1 & 2 (In-Person, Online, Dual Enrollment, and Honors Sections)
  • First Year Seminar (In-Person & Online)
    • Course Themes: The Rhetoric of Movement, Issues in Higher Education, Popular Culture & TV, Social Media & Social Justice, Inquiry into Food, Inquiry into the Memoir
  • Introduction to Fiction
  • Writing in the Workplace (In-Person & Online)
  • Writing the Screenplay
  • Introduction to Narrative Nonfiction

    Statement of Teaching

    The day before I ever taught in a college classroom, my mentor gleefully exclaimed, “You can tap dance on the table if you want! You have complete freedom to teach however you’d like in my classroom!” I wanted to channel her vibrancy and exuberance—the coastal vibe of a yogi who would come straight from the beach before teaching our 9am course. Though tap dancing has never been part of my teaching practice in the writing classroom, my previous dance experience and interest in performance studies does dictate how I approach the English classroom as a place of innovation and self-expression.

    Since this experience, I consistently return to why I enjoy teaching and what I believe to be vital as an educator. I consider teaching to be an act of performance and resistance, an action that I continue to improve, refine, and modify as needed. My teaching style is very much relationship-oriented: engaging students, establishing community, and guiding students in the learning process. My objective as an educator is to create a vibrant classroom environment where students feel welcomed, challenged, and changed by conversation and dialogue. As an educator, I aim to create a space of critical thinking, community, and friendly debate. I view education as a learning-partnership between the students and instructor, a place of discovery and (un)learning together. I view my role as: catalyst and facilitator; it is my job to ask hard questions, prompt critical thinking, and make the act of writing process-oriented, instead of product-oriented.

    Acting as facilitator, I think it is my responsibility to model thoughtfulness, respect, and kindness—though never using these behaviors to tolerate harmful rhetoric or discrimination. I expect students to wrestle with hard ideas and ideologies all while extending compassion to their peers, and I set the tone for this type of dialogue early on in the semester. I think classrooms and campus spaces should promote belonging and equity. Where I veer from many academics and administrators is in my distaste for “safe spaces.” I do not believe safe spaces are obtainable and they can often do more harm than good. Rather, I think by aiming for equity and encouraging belonging and inclusion, students might feel more welcome. Safety is an illusion, and I intend for my classrooms—or any campus space that I facilitate—to be spaces of both belonging and discomfort (in the sense that I want education to push students towards a new level of thinking and experience, never in harm, malice, or exclusion). I sincerely wish safe spaces existed, but they often don’t. In their place, I would rather aim to hold space for people to honor themselves and others, to welcome the exposure of new concepts and ideas.

    While at UTK, I participated in the origins and first pilot of the Antiracist Pedagogy program. In this program, I worked with a group of instructors to develop English-classroom curriculum that would promote equity and inclusion in the writing classroom. Practically, this meant designing labor-based curriculum and grading scales. While I think labor-based curriculum can run the risk of devaluing learning, I also think it initiates a conversation about how education is disseminated and who has access to learning. I am dedicated to building spaces of learning, dialogue, compassion—and fun. I think education should be enjoyable—challenging, yes—but also invigorating and engaging. In order to do that, campus spaces need to be diverse, filled with individuals from unique backgrounds, races, and experiences. This requires diversity and representation across campus, and continuing to recruit students who reflect a desire to learn, collaborate, and grow intellectually, personally, and emotionally.