I believe that my most important role as an instructor is to foster student-centered learning by teaching courses that are engaging to a diverse body of students. Asking students to be co-creators is one way in which I build such courses. For example, in my literature classes I have students generate “guiding questions” for each of the texts we read. These questions direct our discussions, resulting in discourse that is student-centered and reflects the diverse experiences, knowledge, and ideas of the students.
Another element of fostering student-centered learning is encouraging students to see me as a resource, facilitator, and moderator rather than as the “holder of knowledge.” One way that I accomplish this in my writing classes is by asking students to revise their writing based on peer feedback before I offer them teacher feedback. When students rely on peer feedback to assist them with revisions, they learn to value their peers in a new way and are encouraged to see learning as student-driven.
The primary goals I have for my students are thinking critically, articulating ideas clearly and effectively, and taking active responsibility for their learning process. One way in which I encourage students to accomplish these goals is by placing emphasis on the course goals for each class I teach, and asking students to monitor their own progress toward reaching these goals. In order to accomplish this they must critically engage with the course goals as well as the texts and assignments in the course. I expect students to be able to provide evidence that they’ve met each of the course goals at the end of the class, which requires them to be able to articulate their ideas clearly and effectively. For example, in my composition courses, students craft an end-of-term essay in which they provide evidence that they’ve met each of the course goals. In my literature courses, students complete a take-home final that asks them to do the same. The combination of being aware of the goals they are expected to meet and gathering evidence to prove that they’ve met these goals asks students to take active responsibility for their learning process.
One of my strengths as an instructor is the ability to see the “big picture.” This allows me to connect what I expect of myself and my students in my courses to what I see as the primary goal of education—empowerment. As a first generation college student, I’ve witnessed first-hand the doors that can be opened by both basic elements of education, such as literacy and foundational math skills, as well as the more advanced elements, such as critical thinking, being able to effectively communicate, and mastering advanced trade/career skills.
The empowerment provided through education is necessary for a diverse society in which all members can actively participate. My desire to provide others with the opportunity for self-empowerment through education is why I chose a career in community college instruction and why I look forward to many more years of facilitating learning in student-centered courses.
I feel it’s really important to share the work I do in the classroom with others. Sharing this work allows me to get valuable feedback from colleagues, students, and others in the larger community of academia. It also makes my syllabi and assignments available to other people teaching in my field so that if they find something from one of my courses interesting or useful they have access to these materials to share, use, or modify.
Below you will find a link to the following information for each of the courses I teach beginning in Fall 2013: an introduction to and overview of the course, links to the syllabi and major assignments in the course, a reflection on how I feel the course went both for me and my students, and what I might plan to keep or change when I teach the course again in the future.