STATEMENT OF TEACHING PHILOSOPHY
I articulate my teaching philosophy as one that endorses participatory learning/ “dialogic” learning, social understanding and activism, critical thinking/open-mindedness to diverse perspectives, and the use of students’ personal experiences as a resource for academic inquiries. My scholarship is situated within the field of American ethnic literature and critical pedagogy. My research has a profound influence on my teaching practices. I envision the literature classroom as a space for experimentation, learning, critical reflection, and collaboration. Each course I have taught demands a different set of pedagogical skills and strategies for engaging undergraduate students in the classroom. For instance, sophomore literature courses require the use of fiction as a catalyst for student writing and intellectual creativity. The primary responsibility in general education courses is to equip students with a knowledge of and language for literary forms and writing about literature. My courses aim to expose students to the world of literature and how literature becomes a vehicle for intellectual engagement in the form of reading and writing practices. In addition, I enable students to become proficient in evidence-based thinking in the form of textual evidence to support distinct and arguable claims.
As a facilitator in the classroom, my primary pedagogical responsibility is to guide students through an inquiry-based process in order for them to craft their own readings and interpretations of the literatures presented in my classroom. In order to achieve these goals, I create a learning environment that invites students to become co-inquirers with me as the instructor. As a proponent of Paulo Freire’s “co-intentional education” and bell hooks’ “engaged pedagogy,” I strive for a learner-centered classroom where students generate engaged critical conversations through cooperative learning. This strategy allows for students to become active agents in the classroom where they produce knowledge rather than receive knowledge. To facilitate this process, I design activities that enable students to become proficient in self-assessment, reflection, assessing evidence, collaboration with peers, and learning how to independently evaluate new information. This ‘flipped classroom’ methodology enables students’ own ideas to emerge organically as opposed to conveying information to students in the form of a lecture.
The course goals for my courses emphasize that students are expected to become comfortable and confident in discussing and writing about literature. Indeed, I am committed to re-shaping students affective relationship to both reading and writing as it impinges on the study of literary texts. I strive to re-educate students about the purpose and benefits of studying literature and writing about literature. I encourage students to contribute to the burgeoning field of transnational literature and feminist studies through the inquiries they produce in the classroom and in writing assignments. This course goal enlists students as knowledge producers and active agents in the classroom as “insider experts.” I expect students to become comfortable in pursuing research and scholarly activities that are conducive to their process as budding intellectuals. Despite their novice expertise in the field of literary studies, students should still begin to understand their own personal stakes in a course regardless of the topic. I aim to give students a better understanding and appreciation for American ethnic literatures and feminism, respectively. Because of the charged natures of both immigration and the word ‘feminist,’ my aim in my courses are to expose students to the conflicts within transnational literature and feminism, what Gerald Graff calls “teaching the conflicts.” With a focus on “conflicts” rather than consensus, students are able to come to their own conclusions about each topic through a process-guided inquiry.
As a trained writing instructor at the University of Washington, I make writing central to my literature courses. I approach the teaching of literature through a process-based approach that positions reading and writing as mutually constitutive. This begins with teaching students how to close-read and critically engage with texts as well as teaching students how to write about texts. With the aid of open-ended guided questions, or the Socratic method, I instruct students to rely on one another in order to navigate the complexities of course materials. As Bransford and Schwartz (1999) argue, open-ended questions (such as problem-posing questions) allow students to begin with what they already know about a given subject. By beginning with students’ prior knowledge, they are able to see how learning and writing about literature are dynamic processes. Because students have been largely conditioned by a culture of schooling that privileges standardized testing, my primary pedagogical responsibility in the classroom is to re-shape students truncated schemas as it relates to reading and writing practices. This means that in addition to critical reading practices, I focus on the writing process as it pertains to the selected course texts. I find it imperative to not only teach students how to critically read literature, but also, how to write about literature through process-based inquiries.
I measure the effectiveness of my teaching based on students’ critical reflections, anonymous student feedback, and official course evaluations. I view learning as a two-way street, which simply means that we learn just as much from our students as they do from us. An effective way to assess one’s teaching practices is through soliciting students for feedback. Students’ critical reflections composed at the end of each quarter are a valuable resource archive for teachers because it is a sustained and honest critique of our teaching practices and the activities we have implemented throughout the quarter. My goal in the classroom is to be transparent with my students; therefore, I invite students’ critical engaged feedback as an opportunity to strengthen my pedagogical skills and revise the course based upon student feedback.
Simply put, my responsibility to my students is to equip them with reading and writing skills necessary to navigate an ever-changing global landscape; through the texts and topics I teach in my classes, I aim to educate students about the value of reading, studying, and writing about literature. The synergy created between my teaching and research is one primary reason that teaching at the undergraduate level is enjoyable and successful. The courses that I have taught demonstrate my range and effectiveness as a teacher of literature and as a scholar in literary pedagogy. Indeed, the curricula I have developed over five years of teaching at the University of Washington speak to my passion for teaching students how to become active citizens that are engaged and socially responsible.