My pedagogy is driven by the desire to make my actions transparent, revenant, and flexible inside of my classroom, and beyond in my work as an administrator. Connecting my responsibility to students and to other teachers is a pedagogical imperative driven by my research, which seeks to recognize the diverse ways that networks share expertise and knowledge, despite the low visibility across institutions and disciplines.
For my students, I promote a view of writing not as a single event that is restricted to the classroom, but as an ongoing activity, situated in vast networks of communities, across different modalities. Imagining the trajectory of students as they enter my class and prepare to move beyond, I find that I am most concerned with encouraging students to identify their own rhetorical practices as socially situated activities with cultural and technological consequences. By acknowledging the expertise, experiences, and goals students bring with them into my course, I am able to work with students to equip them with the tools to translate their writing across communities that are both physical and digital, beyond my classroom and beyond the genres of the university.
During the semester, I consistently ask myself are my classroom and assessment practices transparent to my students? Are my activities, assignments, feedback, and learning goals relevant to my students as they enter my class and prepare to move beyond it? If the answer to any of these questions is no, am I able to collaborate with my students to adapt my materials, my methods, my pedagogy? In order to gauge the answer to these questions, I consistently involve students in the development of assignments and assessment guidelines, as well as the revision of these documents if the class calls for a change to better meet their learning goals.
As I’ve worked beyond my classroom in administrative roles inside my department and college, I consistently apply my pedagogical principles as I consider programmatic development for graduate students. Instead of thinking about transparency, relevancy, and adaptability in terms of my classroom, I ask these questions more broadly—Are resources for teaching development transparent and visible to graduate students? Are these resources relevant to new and returning graduate students? If the answers to these questions is no, am I able to adapt programmatic resources and practices to collaborate with graduate students and provide pedagogical help that they need to succeed?
I’ve been able to directly engage with First Year Writing program directors at Michigan State University to create a sessions of roundtable discussions that encourage dialogue in a way that values the expertise of the returning TAs while providing multiple pedagogical perspectives for new TAs to learn from, as well as concrete materials and classroom practices to implement and try.
Beyond my department, I’ve been able to work in an advisory role to the Assistant Dean of the Graduate School in order to develop and implement pedagogical programs to support graduate teaching assistants across colleges at Michigan State. One component of this program exists in the form of informal discussions called Inside Teaching Lounges lead by graduate teaching fellows, like myself, who facilitate conversations on specific teaching topics like responding to student writing, which allow teaching assistants of different disciplines to share their success and challenges.
As I continue to develop courses and programs, I am consistently reminded of my role as a facilitator—not as a lone expert. The students and teachers I have interacted with are able and willing to share their expertise for the development of learning networks that are creative, challenging, and supportive. It is my hope that as I continue to facilitate, I will also continue to unapologetically advocate for the power of collaborative learning.