I am a new applicant for faculty positions, but I am no stranger to college teaching. Prior to starting graduate school, I taught writing for nine years at community colleges and at the University of Minnesota. As a graduate student, I have taught several courses in geography. This includes work as a teaching assistant for two undergraduate courses on GIS and mapping and for a graduate course on advanced spatial statistics. I have also been the primary instructor for two courses, one on food studies and another on urban inequality in the global north.
In total, I have taught nearly 1,000 students in 40 class sections over about 25 semesters, in almost all cases as the primary instructor. My experience as an instructor has been recognized by my department, as I have been asked to participate on several panels providing guidance for new graduate instructors. I consider my varied background in teaching an invaluable resource for my future career as a faculty member. I have primarily taught in traditional courses but also have experience teaching several online and hybrid courses.
Based on my training and experience, I have developed the following principles that describe my approach to teaching:
Treat learning as a social process My teaching largely follows a constructivist approach, providing a scaffolded, supportive environment in which students can engage with course material while keeping their own academic interests and goals in mind.
Use multiple modalities of teaching Creating activities and assessments that provide varying points of entry to the course material makes class times more engaging for students and allows them to see how class topics translate to life outside the classroom.
Design "authentic assignments" Authentic assignments, as described in educational theory, ask students to apply their learning to real world situations. I have used service learning and other public engagements to situate students' assignments. I want students to consistently be thinking about what writing and research does, how it affects the world.
Keep expectations and grading transparent By using rubrics with focused learning objectives, providing model assignments, discussing expectations in class, and having a easily understood grading scheme, I make grading decisions as transparent as possible.
Develop students' critical spatial thinking My students should move beyond seeing geography as a discipline that simply describes space and place to one that critically interrogates them, asking how they are produced and how representations of them are used to further certain social and political ends.