Courses Currently Taught
Composition 1 (STLCC-Wildwood)
In this freshman composition course, students practice reading and writing essays of various kinds in order to prepare them to enter academic and professional conversations. I model and instruct students in strategies for approaching a text, such as making connections to prior knowledge, asking ourselves questions as we read, and drawing pictures or maps of the situations being described. I work especially hard at helping students learn to to understand writing prompts and to separate their summaries of others’ writing from their responses to others’ writing. Hello, 5-paragraph essay! I also introduce a modified version of the source sandwich, to help them understand topic sentences, explanations, and transitions.
Courses Taught in the Recent Past
Success in Writing and Reading (College of Lake County)
This is a 1-credit course taken in conjunction with Composition 1. Once a week, 5 developmental students from the Comp 1 class review basic reading and writing strategies and go over class assignments and topics in more depth. Course pairing based in part on the Accelerated Learning Program developed by the Community College of Baltimore County as well as the California Acceleration Project. I taught this course once, and the results were overwhelmingly positive. My 5 guys bonded and became the heart of their class, explaining difficult concepts to other students and reporting back to me which instructional techniques were working and what wasn’t. They took on leadership roles and, through their experiences helping others, learned to direct their own progress, to assess their own learning roadblocks, and to figure out how to address their own needs. If I could teach a section of 100 for each of my Comp sections, I would.
Composition 1 (College of Lake County)
At CLC, instructors are encouraged to challenge their students with intellectually engaging material and assignments. I have found that “developmental” students are usually extremely savvy about the harsh realities of human society and are well prepared for intense verbal and written discussion, with some ground rules. In Comp 1, I provided developmentally appropriate, intellectually engaging texts that modeled the careful reading, writing, and source use practices I wanted my students to learn. I also began the semester with a unit in primary research (autoethnographies of students’ foodways), so they could see for themselves how much work it takes to make knowledge and that certain kinds of information are held back from the public by corporations and governments. In a full-length semester (not late start), I have time to introduce and practice reading strategies in class. For late start, I make use of flipped classroom techniques, with homemade YouTube movies and handouts followed by Blackboard-based quizzes and tests to make up the difference.
Composition 2 (College of Lake County)
I devote the entire semester to writing a single 7- to 10-page research paper. Students begin by writing a persuasive letter with few to no sources, then learn strategies for reading scholarly papers (if they can read these with comprehension, they can read anything) and writing useful annotations for their bibliographies. They write field analyses, detailing the ways knowledge is made and prioritized within their target audience, and develop persuasion strategies based on those analyses. Along the way, I provide examples of writing by students from past semesters (with permission) for current students to critique. This semester is heavy on the theory and practice of language use and rhetorical strategies, including ethos, pathos, and logos and the principles of argument in personal, professional, and academic settings.
As an adjunct instructor, my teaching-related duties are all voluntary and unofficial. When I started teaching part time during my master’s program, I prepared for class, taught class, saw students in office hours, and went home to grade papers. Firm boundaries between home and work seemed like a positive thing. Later, as a community college instructor, I recognized that I could have a tremendous impact on the success of my students, if I was willing, because so many of them lacked opportunities and skills sets, which I could provide. Now, my teaching-related activities extend far beyond class time.
- Every semester, I offer student-teacher interviews by providing a sign-up sheet with dates and times available. In Comp 1, these take place outside of class. In Comp 2, they are scheduled into class, so students can learn from the instruction I give their classmates. See Appendix A: Sample Syllabi and Course Calendars for a sample schedule.
- In addition to inviting Writing Center tutors into the classroom at the beginning of each semester to pitch their services, I provide students with specific instructions and training for taking their work to the Writing Center. Not every tutor communicates well with every student, so I train students to direct the session so they get something out of it that they perceive as valuable. I also follow up, discussing my students’ sessions with Writing Center administrators. And I show my students examples of my own writing before and after reviewing it with writerly friends and colleagues, so they know the Writing Center is not just for dummies. See Appendix A: Sample Syllabi and Course Calendars to see how Writing Center visits are scheduled into each semester.
- At the College of Lake County (CLC), I requested an embedded librarian every semester, even before they officially offered the service. (Before embedding was offered, I scheduled librarians for a lot of in-class time in computer classrooms.) STLCC-Wildwood has different facilities than I am used to, but I am doing what I can there to simulate the effect of an embedded librarian in my courses. See Appendix A: Sample Syllabi and Course Calendars to see when librarians come into class to assist or instruct.
- Based on my own experience with educational loans, I advise students not to take out student loans for undergraduate degrees. Instead, I advise them to develop writing skills to get scholarships, and I provide information on Blackboard about finding scholarships to apply for. See Appendix C: Course Materials.
- In Fall 2012, I organized a film series outside of class to support connections between class discussions and writing and students’ real lives and the real lives of people the students don’t personally know. See Appendix A: Sample Syllabi and Course Calendars.
- I make sure my class is a safe place for LGBTQs and liberals, but also for conservatives and religionists, as well as those who just don’t know what they think yet. It is not my job to tell my students what to think, only to make sure they do think, and that they respect the right of others to think. Quite often, somebody writes a paper either on a religious topic or against religion in society, with my help and blessing. Almost every semester, at least one of my students comes out as homosexual in my class. If it doesn’t happen in class, it happens privately, in discussion with me after class or during my office hours. One of my students from 2010 still calls me for career and education advice, as well as advice on how to handle her bisexuality and her clashes with her parents’ conservative religion. See Appendix A: Sample Syllabi and Course Calendars, for my equal opportunity and classroom courtesy statements, which I include in all my syllabi.
- On the departmental level, I come to meetings for Comp faculty and participate in discussion there. I participated in 2 pilot projects in 2012 and came to meetings related to those over the summer and throughout the semester. I also take professional development opportunities when offered. See Appendix G: Curriculum Vitae.
- I call students who do not come to class a few periods in row. I also email students who are falling behind and advise them when it is in their best interest to drop my course. This outreach often brings students in to see how they can regain good standing. See Appendix E: Sample Correspondence with Students.
- I make myself available to my students as a mentor and a friend. Sometimes, students are struggling socially or at home. Because I emphasize that they should tell me when something is happening in their lives that will affect their schoolwork, they do usually tell me in general terms when things are going wrong. I am careful to respect their privacy and their rights, but I connect them with resources when I can. If they agree, I walk them to the counseling office and stay with them until they can be seen by a counselor. I walked students to the counseling office twice in Fall 2012.
- In Fall 2012, one of my students disappeared for three weeks, right at midterm. He spent 3 weeks in the county jail after he was racially profiled and then charged with a crime he did not commit. He was released once the offender confessed. Because he missed so much class, he lost the chance to finish 8 of his 12 credit hours that semester, all 8 in his major, and will no longer graduate on time. When I found out what happened, I walked with him to the offices of his HVAC professors to see if he could stay in class and try to make up the work, and even got him an interview with his department chair.
- In Spring 2012, one of my students was accused of plagiarism by another teacher. Because I had taught my students the difference between plagiarism, unintentional misappropriation (which is not the same as plagiarism), and fair use, the student knew that he had been wrongly accused. I told him whom to speak to in the college administration and what to say to get the charges dropped, which he did successfully. See Appendix C: Course Materials for documents and presentations related to plagiarism.
- I make sure students know that I am happy to write letters of recommendation. They do not have to get an A in my class to make a good impression on me.
- I maintain relationships with other students after their semester with me ends. 8 students from previous semesters are connected to me on LinkedIn, which I joined last year at the request of a former student. Currently, 11 of my 66 students from Fall 2012 remain in touch with me by Facebook. Most contact on Facebook is intermittent, but a few are in constant contact, and one routinely beats me at Words with Friends.