Teaching Profile

be something new

An Inkling of the Educator

perspectives on teaching and learning

While in the sixth grade I considered becoming a teacher. That moment passed; I quickly returned to dreams of being a famous writer… and a computer programmer and a scientist and several other things. In time, I discovered teaching allows me to share my interests and gives me a wonderful excuse to learn more. Teaching makes me a better writer and a better person.

As an undergraduate, I completed the courses and exams to teach both science and English. Dual certification appealed to me, and still does. The thought of limiting myself to a single subject scares me; I search for connections between disciplines. Unfortunately, we separate disciplines into neat blocks of time during childhood and into isolated departments within higher education. It depresses me to hear anyone state “Math is hard!” or “Art doesn’t help people.” Most scientists and engineers I know have creative hobbies or even second careers in the arts. I wish more artists and humanities scholars enjoyed technology hobbies. Everything connects.

During my doctoral studies, I contacted the University of Minnesota School of Education to inquiry about completing a K–12 credential for the state, but the adviser suggested higher education offered more opportunities. Since 2010 declining enrollments and school closures have been the norm in the Midwest and Northeast. In both Minnesota and Pennsylvania, schools in my neighborhoods closed.

Higher Education

At the university level, my teaching duties have included writing and communications courses with a focus on multimedia literacy. Technology shapes writing, and written language itself is an applied technology. I enjoy exploring how we might write in the future. I prefer the phrase multimedia literacy to digital composition because my courses explore works delivered as audio, video, and text. My students create digital compositions, from podcasts to video productions. Digital literacy represents an important aspect of writing and communication instruction. Students consider all potential communication forms and delivery methods for their works, from the spoken word to podcasting.

I ask students to create portfolios in most of my classes. Either in print or digital form, portfolios remind students of their progress through a semester. Also, portfolios encourage reflection and revision. Real projects, with real audiences, increase the value of classroom exercises.  

Writing remains my primary interest. Technology and writing depend on each other. From the development of paper and ink to modern tablet computers, technology has shaped how we plan, compose, design, and distribute words, converting those words into something that exists apart from the author.

I hope that students realize success in our complex global economy demands learning about many things and never refusing an opportunity to learn more. Maybe, like me, some of my students will come to resist being specialists in narrow fields.

 

Never Stop Learning

Every year I learn something new about teaching — usually from my students. If you listen to students, they repay that respect.