My teaching philosophy is molded less after texts that influenced me during my studies on literature and composition pedagogy, and more after the professors and instructors that mentored me and groomed me. My most powerful lessons on teaching and connecting with students came during my time in the Atlanta University Center, a hub of historically black colleges and universities. There, professors were more than fact-checkers and walking wikipedias, they were guides. My professors often gave us tasks that tested our abilities to see beyond the obvious and the fruits of these tasks ripened many semesters later in advanced classes and in our graduate studies. Teaching, in this place, became larger than simply the sixteen weeks’ of curriculum. My own passion for teaching is born out of that experience. My students should feel that the learning in my class extends outside of the texts, outside of the classroom, and plugs right into the greater world.
By incorporating a new digital component to my teaching, based on the theories espoused in the online journal, Hybrid Pedagogy, I encourage my students to create conversations about writing and literature that will make them active participants rather than passive observers. My teaching philosophy encourages errors and and learning from mistakes in the process of writing and analyzing. I want my students to take risks with their writing; rather than only being able to produce formulaic papers, I want them to be able to write with innovation and with sincerity. Their sincerity, based on a respect for language, should help them to see language as a source of power and advancement.
Using online platforms like Twitter, Storify, and general blogging tools, my students get to reanimate discussions on literature and writing by analyzing them through a new lens and thereby allowing a greater audience to join in the debate.
Connecting to a greater audience has always been part of my drive as an instructor. The literature I choose within my courses focuses often on identity and community, themes in which my students have intellectual and emotional investment. They should not only understand material within its cultural and historical moment, but be able to analyze its influence and meaning in this contemporary moment. How has the internet meme sensation incorporated historical figures to create a new type of rhetoric? What happens when we see a Thomas Jefferson meme as we are reading Notes on the State of Virginia? I believe this is the start of a marriage of the digital world with that of academia.
I believe my courses will give students options, opportunities. The connections between the digital public space and the academia space are still being discovered and ferreted out. Many of these connections will be defined by students who have been given space to innovate, discuss, and experiment. Students will have the opportunity to think critically, to attempt innovation, and perhaps to dream.
Clark Atlanta University - BA, English
Georgia State University - MA, ABD, Literary Studies