Student photographer, Tyler Webster
Contained within this ePortfolio is the narrative and evidence of my teaching, service and professional development. As you read, please let me steer your attention to the theme that drives me as a teacher: my goal as a teacher is to empower every student to transform their own lives, on their own terms.
I have worked as a teacher and in educational programming for nearing two decades. The contexts vary widely. It is hard to organize all of the contexts here but I will list them: writing centers, learning centers, volunteer community ESL, prison, online, hybrid, service learning community college and university courses, ESL composition and content-based ESL version of introductory linguistics. I also have a long history in tutoring multiple subjects, though mostly writing, and have instructed tutor training courses. From this variety, I have learned flexibility and responsiveness for a multitude of instructional contexts.
I find myself drawn most to teaching methodology filled with active, collaborative, student-centered and authentic tasks. These features make the work intrinsically motivating, which encourages quality work and promotes both retention and transfer. This comes through learning theorists like Bloom, Piaget, Vygotsky, and Freire-- as well as language theorists-- Krashen, Chomsky, Cummins, and VanPatten.
Without dissecting the learning theory more, I will say that my teaching aims for a student-centered environment where co-learners experience emotional contagion— a subtle combination of trust and mimicry. The process requires cooperative style of communication. I “tell one on myself,” to model honest reflection. I share my own interests, inviting them to do the same, to keep students engaged. I reflect on my weaknesses as a student, learner, reader, writer, and researcher. Again, I invite reciprocation. It is playful. I let students challenge the role of teacher to keep the relationship honest-- we are co-learners.
Incorporating service learning into my 1200 course is another way of turning student attention toward authentic tasks. I designed the service learning for linguistics as a window into real world linguistics issues that students can use to conceptualize all of the theoretical fields into one real application. My own service there is a way to maintain connection to my field, adult language acquisition and linguistics, and to promote linguistic reparations to Shoshone tribes in Utah.
In all of my classrooms, online and face to face, I seek to be inclusive. Access and inclusion support engagement. In online environments, that starts with an inclusive (accessible) design. But we haven't stopped there. In all of my courses, we have adopted zero or low cost texts. Both 1010 and 2100 are free texts and many of them are truly "open" by being CC BY materials. In 1200, I am actively working toward a zero cost, open text. Attending OpenEd 2019 Conference in October/November is helping us in the linguistics committee to produce an OER textbook. This will make the linguistics classes more affordable at SLCC to support our new articulation agreement with the University of Utah Linguistics Department. I will also be attending the online Global Society of Online Literacy Educators (GSOLE) conference in January because, as online educators, the interest in OER dovetails.
Access in the classroom is about more than free books and inclusive interface. Students need responsive teaching, inclusive language, safe spaces, and diverse representation. This is one of the places I have been most passionate in every level of my professional work and service-- in class and out-- to voice opposition to oppressive and exclusionary language and discourse, boost underrepresented voices, and engage in anti-oppression action. Some of the formal roles have been to contribute to the African American Read-In, Women Writers Campaign, and the Native American Heritage Month authors display in the Markosian Library.
Another way I work to combat oppression is in the contributions I make as the Full Time faculty on the 1010 team. In this year's efforts, I have been able to negotiate a grading norm that prioritizes progress, not perfection-- in some circles it is known as "ungrading." This is where more attention is given to processing through the work with feedback than to issuing a grade. This semester, we formalized the connection between formative feedback, peer review, and the "ungrading" style of process assessment. We have begun using the document I created last year, "Order of Concerns Rubric," to encourage students through the writing process on their major drafts but not as a rubric to assess points. This offers the student freedom to be where they are, see a pathway forward, and form their own goals at the end. This is an achievement in learning autonomy for the student, establishing their own definitions of success.