The core of my teaching philosophy lies in my belief that teachers have a responsibility to their students to make purposeful pedagogy choices based on research, careful analysis of experience, and active investigation into ways of meeting the unique needs of each individual classroom space. Toward these ends, my teaching always begins with the development of specific learning goals that act as the foundation for all of my other pedagogy choices. Every decision—creating assignments, designing assessment, planning activities, producing resources, facilitating discussion, or presenting lecture—stems from these objectives, so that each choice I make in the classroom not only has a reason, but I can articulate these purposeful decisions to my students.
While I facilitate learning opportunities through each thoughtful choice, my role as teacher is not simply to present knowledge, but create a space wherein my students collaboratively endeavor to achieve certain objectives. I am confident in the expertise I bring to this space and work to increase the knowledge and understanding I can offer my students, but I do not see myself as a delivery system for learning. Instead, I seek to design and create a classroom where students are inspired to take enthusiastic responsibility for their own learning and growth. To do this means constantly working to improve my pedagogy, a goal I pursue in many ways. For example, I continually seek innovative methods of collaborative learning, research ways to connect effectively with students via lecture and discussion, study ever-changing definitions of authentic assessment, and look for new opportunities to integrate technology into my classroom. By using this researched based and developing knowledge, I can offer my students resources and opportunities that help them to not only accumulate facts, but see the value in the skills and approaches that form the basis of the learning outcomes we work to achieve.
The goals of courses in English Studies are complex, but effective pedagogy results not only from continuing research into both content and practice, but also a concerted effort to understand the needs of a particular student population. After teaching courses in a variety of college and university spaces that focus on literature, writing, and general education, I have come to understand that the writing and analytical skills that students develop in my class extend past knowing the difference between a run-on sentence and a fragment, or how to complete a close reading of a text. I teach students how to see the world more critically and use a command of language to communicate what they discover. My goal is to change the ways students from all disciplines see writing and literature, and help them to realize that understanding the parameters of the distinctive genres they interact with everyday can allow them to participate more fully in the traditions of language upon which the field of English Studies is built. I encourage an examination of language and literature from a multimodal and multidisciplinary perspective, one that seeks new meaning and understanding from language in a variety of situations, from the study of literary classics to the ways that technology shapes writing in incredible ways.
The reality of our changing world is that skills in writing and literary analysis become ever more crucial as we face new and changing methods of using and manipulating language. Students at every level must produce and interact with a variety of texts, and to become truly successful, they must do so not only with proficient command of convention, but with an increased understanding of why certain texts are unique to their rhetorical situation. By becoming more able to see this complexity and analyze the messages that texts send, students will be able to engage more meaningfully with the world around them. This goal takes many forms unique to each group of students I teach, but it always rests at the heart of my teaching philosophy.