Year Awarded: 2012
College of Arts and Humanities
Teaching literature and literary theory is a joyful experience for me the majority of the time. Of course, grading is always difficult and time-consuming work, but it is a task that shows me what has worked, what hasn't, and what needs to be done or revised. Face-to-face or online interaction with my students motivates me to find different and innovative classroom/online techniques, methods, and challenges to keep them engaged with their learning. I try to listen to them, hear what they know and don't know so that we can create meaning together as we read and interpret diverse and difficult texts.
One of my pedagogical approaches is to attempt to disrupt my students' complacency through an ongoing dialogue about gender, race, class, age, culture, and ability as represented in the texts that we read. I work hard to create an atmosphere of respect so that we can have honest discussions of the issues represented in the literature. We don't have to achieve consensus, but we do have to consider other points of view. When the students tell me that they have continued their discussions outside of class or online, not because of an assignment but because they care about the conversation we began in class, I am delighted. Active learning takes place in those moments. I feel successful when students leave my courses asking more questions than they did when they arrived.
By refusing to become complacent myself and by refusing to teach the same texts over and over, I stay focused and excited about what we are doing in the course. Successful teaching involves active learning, meaningful engagement, critical thought, cogent writing, careful reading, collaborative assignments, respectful dialogue, global connections, diverse viewpoints, and concern for social justice.