Teaching Philosophy

With collaborative and audience theory informing my pedagogy, I emphasize writing as a professional career. I aim for students to leave my classroom with industry-applicable skills, including design theory, media production (various mediums including sound and video), delivery and circulation concepts (marketing, advertising, and publication tactics), and technical communication (writing reports, grants, and proposals).

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To achieve these ends, I teach writing and communication as a professional endeavor and apprenticeship. This approach means that I advise students and require them to repeatedly revise their writing until it would be acceptable in a workplace environment or for a professional editor. In my classroom, students practice daily and weekly writing habits for semester-long writing projects rather than several individual units with discrete due dates. I believe one finely tuned project is better than multiple papers or essays. Further, students set their own due dates (and they are held accountable to those dates). They revise these semester long projects inside and outside the classroom and are also asked to consult with audiences outside of the classroom community (e.g., other students, faculty, and individuals for whom the project would be relevant). In this sense, I stress collaboration not only between writers but also between writer(s) and audiences. To assess student writing, I assign weekly, monthly, and semester-long self-evaluations for students to complete. These evaluations typically focus on three aspects: (1) writing habits, (2) the quality of writing students produce, and (3) areas for improvement. These evaluations are instrumental in moving students past the conceptual constraints of the semester system and grading—a move that I hope enables them to see writing as having effects in professional environments.

A typical class period of mine has a pattern. First, I open with set of questions designed to prompt thinking (either in the form of an individual freewrite or a think-pair-share discussion). Second, these questions lead to a short group discussion that I facilitate. Next, I typically have a 10-15 minute interactive lecture or discussion of that period’s materials (reading, writing activity, etc.). Finally, there is typically a group writing session wherein I assign an activity based on that day’s lecture or reading. I adjust this template depending on the class level (for higher level classes, students often facilitate more of the class discussions) or day/time (for shorter class periods, I typically “flip” my lectures by putting them online in both video and podcast format). For graduate classes, students come to class with opening sets of questions to get us started for the day. In these scenarios, graduate students typically meet with me to talk about their lesson plan and in order to finalize suitable material to include in their lectures (reading, videos, topical articles).

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign