Working with students from diverse cultural, ethnic, and religious backgrounds, and within a variety of department and course contexts, I have come to believe that students should be given the opportunity to improve their writing skills and learn to read and think deeply about the world around them. Literature, in a larger sense, is about human experience and looking into the ideas of others in order to form notions of ourselves and our world. Writing is about creative process, and the relation between the formal, structural, and constructive elements of texts and their cultural content. In order to read and write thoughtfully, I encourage students to engage in discussion at every level: from the meanings and messages of the text, to analyzing the rhetorical elements, to critical thinking about how all of these relate to history as well as our contemporary world. These strategies help me to teach students to both read from a writing perspective, and write with a greater awareness of language, constructive technique, and content.
When asked to participate in the interpretation of meaning and understanding of texts, and to practice writing in a safe and collective space, students often become more confident about themselves and their abilities as students and as writers. As a teacher of writing, I am interested in helping students to develop their practices of thinking and constructing, and encouraging them to help one another, rather than simply focusing on the end products of their work. In my classes I emphasize the writing process which includes rhetorical awareness, drafting, peer review, and revision. My goals include giving each student a set of tools with which to craft her or his interest and practice, and to encourage all students to allow the reading, thinking, and writing skills acquired to extend through other parts of their lives as well.
Students come to the classroom from different backgrounds and experiences, and they bring with them a variety of skills. I am committed to offering students varied resources and means of engagement so that everyone has the opportunity to develop useful habits while becoming more confident about their own reading and writing. I also bring these ideas into my practice as a writing center tutor and in one-on-one meetings with students. Writing center pedagogy often emphasizes nurturing writers versus producing “better writing”; the focus is on processes of writing, revision, and productive encouragement.
In the composition classroom, I am especially interested in collaboration and dialogue among students. I believe that students learn by doing and they are most willing to participate when they feel comfortable and included in the community of the classroom. A mixture of class discussion, group work, and other activities gives students an assortment of ways in which to participate; creating variety in activities, exercises, and assignments tends to create an atmosphere accommodating to various learning styles. Additionally, individual and group presentations can help students to be more open about speaking in class as well as give them greater opportunities for getting to know each other. I also have a strong commitment to reflecting the diversity of the classroom, and the larger society, within the syllabi and the content of my courses. It is important to me to introduce students to a range of styles and types of writing, and to present work by women and others from a variety of ethnic and cultural backgrounds that reflects a multiplicity of concerns and perspectives. I believe that students need to read widely in order to more fully understand the directions in which to move with their own thinking and writing, to expand their critical and creative minds, and to develop academic skills that will most benefit them in the long run. And I work to help students personalize their learning experiences by offering them opportunities for response and reflection, which also gives them more practice articulating their own ideas in speaking and writing.
As teacher, I see myself as a facilitator. I am available both inside and outside of the classroom to offer students resources and opportunities to learn and to grow. I see it as my job to encourage students to think for themselves and to participate in the active environment of the writing classroom, to develop their capabilities as they go into other classroom settings, and to continue learning to interact as thoughtful citizens in a complex world.