My teaching is grounded in my experience as a first-generation college graduate with prior IT work experience, as a graduate student studying abroad, and as an assistant professor in one of the most diverse cities in the world teaching at a minority-serving institution. I recognize the challenges that many students face in an increasingly globalized and technologized world, and I do my best to help students find personal success. I listen to them, I respond to their specific needs, and I mentor them to help them achieve their academic and future career goals.
I embrace diversity. I believe that our learning environments should be welcoming and inclusive of everyone who seeks an education. By supporting and encouraging all students to achieve their goals, they in turn may help others achieve theirs thereby contributing to greater equality and improved cultural understanding. Also, students deserve a diverse cohort that mirrors the reality of our world and challenges siloed, insular community relations in real life and online. Furthermore, our students need to see themselves in the material that we teach through better representation. Designing syllabi, readings, and assignments that draw on diverse students’ lived experiences and create opportunities for cooperation, collaboration, and support for all students is, I assert, one of the most important missions of higher education in the twenty-first century. And, I believe my students and their diversity have made me a better teacher who meets their needs and supports their success.
I teach heuristics and workflows to solve problems with the tools at hand. Keeping the science fiction writer William Gibson’s aphorism, “the street finds its own use for things, in mind, I help students rethink the role that their technologies and tools play in their ability to communicate, create, and be in the world. This involves breaking down complex problems into smaller, discrete tasks, discovering shortcuts to accomplish the work at hand in an efficient manner, and repurposing hardware and software to execute their goals regardless of official messages or assumptions about how those technologies should be used. This is a pedagogical approach to the hacker mindset.
I approach learning with joy. Through my enthusiasm and planning, I aim to demonstrate to my students what the physicist Richard Feynman calls “the pleasure of finding things out.” It is my hope students walk out of my Science Fiction class not only knowing the history of the genre but having a deeper appreciation for its aesthetics, ideas, and significance.
I ground practice in theory. In Science Fiction, I teach students theoretical lenses, such as postmodern theory for cyberpunk or gender theory for Feminist SF, so that they discover deeper meanings within culture and apply those theories outside of class. In Composition, students learn to identify their audience, deploy rhetorical strategies (e.g., ethos, pathos, logos, telos, and kairos), and layer WOVEN modes (i.e., written, oral, visual, electronic, and nonverbal). Or, in a class on Language and Technology, I work with students to understand these terms before exploring their relationship with Ong, Mazlish, and others, and then applying these theories to their own examples.
I approach learning with interdisciplinary thinking. For example, I teach Science Fiction as an interdisciplinary literary genre in two ways: extrapolating science and technology depends on bridging disciplinary knowledges to make new insights and applying the humanities to STEM allows us to explore the effects of science and technology on individuals and society.
Finally, I lead students toward becoming reflective and engaged learners in all of my classes, from Composition to Science Fiction to Technical Communication. Reflective writing practices are proven to improve retention, build connections to other knowledge, and recognize value in what is learned.