I have over 9 years of experience teaching writing and literature at the college level. I practice what I call an inclusive Socratic method, inspired by bell hooks’s Teaching Critical Thinking (2010). This involves creating multiple paths to the classroom conversation using a combination of digital and traditional methods while centering student thinking and scaffolding student participation.
These strategies have resulted in innovative course assignments such as student-generated presentations on syllabus content, digital posters, collaborative course policies, dialogic online writing, and student-led class discussions. I am also strategic about moderating class discussions to engage diverse student populations with uneven relationships to academic and other structures of privilege. Together, these activities and techniques facilitate collaborative learning environments and lively discussions in both online and traditional formats.
Inclusive practices in my classroom activities support my overall pedagogical commitment to fostering diversity and critical engagement. I define “diversity” as the differences that shape perspectives and experiences, including differences that are produced and reinforced by social structures and discourses. I believe attention to diversity in both syllabi and classroom activities prepares students for success in a global community. Therefore, in my roles as instructor and teaching assistant for undergraduate courses at both the University of Arkansas and the University of Massachusetts, I have developed a pedagogy which puts perspective at the center of syllabus design, class activities, and course objectives. Recognition of one’s own perspective, and critical attention to the cultural and social systems which shape our perspectives and those of others, can provide useful frameworks for analyzing the aesthetic and political work that literature does.
Student evaluations have scored my teaching above department and campus-wide performance averages on a consistent basis. Student feedback consistently highlight my enthusiasm for student perspectives and my facilitation of a collaborative learning community.