Face-to-Face Teaching Materials
This page includes my teaching philosophy and other course materials. My teaching philosophy should be considered a living document, like my course materials, which are reshaped, revised, and reviewed after every course that I teach. I also reflect upon and change my teaching philosophy as I read past and present composition scholarship, past and present pedagogy, and consider the lived experiences of myself, my colleagues, and my students.
Included below my teaching philosophy are examples of course syllabus for ENC 1101 and 2135, as well as sample assignment sheets. ENC 1101 and 2135 are the two required courses in Florida State University's College Composition Program. This syllabus—also referred to as course policy sheet—was composed with accessible design in mind, using Anne-Marie Womack's "Teaching is Accommodation: Universally Designing Syllabi and Composition Classrooms," published in CCC's in February of 2017. I view this document as my teaching philosophy enacted. My course themes differ, but are organized around many of my goals and values as an instructor. My courses intend to challenge students to consider the social, political, and public connotations around writing and language use. The courses aim to complete these goals through process and viewing genre(s) enacted as effective response(s) to a rhetorical situation.
I'm a naturally anxious person; being in spaces where I am visible, evaluated, held responsible, etc., tend to exacerbate that anxiety. Teaching should inherently terrify me—and some days, it does. But I am shocked at just how good it feels to plan a lesson, collaborate with students, and watch them engage with or understand writing in new ways. I’ve taught composition courses with central themes involving social and political issues, narrativizing our lives, and the rhetorical situation. I've had students write masterful genre analyses of dystopian YA and the ways these novels are poised to interrogate our most pressing social issues. I've had students research Childish Gambino's "This is America," uncovering imagery related to race and power that I would have never noticed myself. It's been thrilling seeing my students understand the concepts we talk about and enact them in our coursework
To discuss these concepts, my teaching takes on a feminist, anti-racist, collaborative approach. It's naive to think that I can fully decenter myself in my classroom; I am, after all, the instructor, and I am expected by my institution to assess my students. Because assessment holds so much power, I read, negotiate, and put into practice the best I can, scholarship encouraging anti-racist pedagogy and assessment; additionally, I also I try to grant agency to my students however I can. I never want to be the sole authority, the definitive voice on all things writing and composition. To de-center myself, I often act as facilitator rather than lecturer in my classroom.
Our coursework revolves around topics; topics, I've specifically chosen in the hopes they adequately scaffold and prepare my students for the tasks ahead of them. For example, our lessons revolve around genre, around research, around rhetorical situation; together, we define and deconstruct these concepts so my students feel equipped in using these terms, in understanding them rhetorically and theoretically. In doing so, I try to foster a dialogue; questions directed towards me are immediately thrown to the room—"What do y'all think about that?"—and all of my activities are group oriented. As groups talk, I float around the room, joining conversations, sitting among my students, physically taking me away from that central, front-of-the-room space that somehow holds so much authority. When we come back together, I like to have large discussions around these concepts, too, that ground them in social reality. Take the rhetorical situation: if we are saying that good composition is a “fitting response” response to an exigence, I’ll ask my students to consider: What genre have I selected? In what ways does this genre allow me to respond appropriately? How am I conforming to and subverting generic expectations? How does this serve my purpose? How am I asserting my own voice, ideology, ideas, and subjectivity? How am I conveying my perception of the world around me, and am I doing so clearly? As I do this, whose voices am I aligning myself with? Challenging? Silencing?
I value these conversation because in my course, I rhetorically situate grammar and style in the context of genre. I ask my students to engage in writing that will shift the way they think about/use multiple grammars throughout the semester, using the writings of Asao Inoue, Jacqueline Jones Royster, Gloria Anzaldúa, and others to inform my practice. I value this understanding of fluid voice because as a queer, white, mentally ill, gender-nonconforming person with working class roots, the ways in which I am and am not privileged have inherently affected my educational experience, my writing, and my engagement with the world around me. As a student, I’ve experienced the ways composition courses and courses that engage with rhetorical theory can allow students to explore these aspects of their identity, and as an instructor, I ensure this is a part of our classroom discussion.
My pedagogy is also highly influenced by models and modeling. It's my belief that if my students see me modeling an interest in writing, especially their writing, they'll have that same interest in their writing, too. I particularly model this through my obsession with feedback. During draft one, I hold 15 minute conferences. Draft two, we do peer feedback, where I float around and comment on each of my students' drafts, as though I were another participant in each group. The final draft gets comments, too: I highlight choices that work, discuss areas that may benefit from revision, and always talk about the document like it is still a work-in-progress—and in my course, it is. I let me students revise any final draft for inclusion at our end-of-semester portfolio. It is my hope that if they see my interest, they'll realize that their writing is exactly that—interesting. And it is my hope that my interest will affirm to them that we all deserve to be a part of this lofty space that we call the academy.