I have a wealth of teaching experience at the college level, both in seminar-style classes as well as large lecture classes. Most recently, I have originated two courses as a Teaching Affiliate for the Center for Asian American Studies at UT: Mixed Race and the Media, as well as Introduction to Asian American Studies. Both are original course preparations for which I am the sole instructor of record. The Mixed Race and the Media class was a seminar with an enrollment of 25 students and was writing intensive; Introduction to Asian American Studies is a mid-size introductory lecture class of 50 students. I built the Mixed Race class on my experience teaching a large lecture introductory course Race, Ethnicity, and the Media class of 150+ students for my home department, Radio-TV-Film, in 2010-2011. I was the instructor of record for this class as well, managing four TAs. I have TA’d classes through the field of media and cultural studies, film studies, and communications studies, such as: Communication, Technology and Society; Narrative Strategies; Communication and Ethnic Groups; Convergent Hollywood.
I have also taken a university-level pedagogy course, Supervised Teaching in Radio-TV-Film, required at UT for any student wishing to teach on their own (the rank is labeled “Assistant Instructor,” even though it is the sole instructor of record position for the class). In addition to the courses above, courses I am prepared to offer in the future are: Introduction to Social Media, an applied/project-based studio seminar on Social Media Practices, a course on Qualitative Methods, Introduction to Gender Studies, as well as upper division or grad courses on Critical Race Theory, Queer Studies or Feminist Theory, and Affect Studies.
My classes are consistently evaluated in the “Very High” range on all aspects in student surveys. The last class I taught, Mixed Race and the Media in Fall 2013, earned me a 4.9/5 in “Average Overall Instructor Rating,” one of my accomplishments of which I am most proud. Additionally, my classes often fulfill requirements such as “Cultural Diversity in the United States” and “Writing Intensive.”
My teaching philosophy can be broken down into three main points:
1. “High expectations” of students can only be achieved through high clarity from the teacher.
Too often, teachers say they have blanket “high expectations” for their students. What I have learned from my time as a teacher at the University of Texas is that students can only rise to meet high expectations if those expectations are given with a high level of clarity and precision on the part of the professor. It is one thing to tell a group of students that they need to produce a discussion outline; it is quite another to model what a successful outline looks like, list the components upon which it will be graded, and give regular feedback to the class about those expectations and whether or not they are being met. In fact, if a teacher has “high expectations” but doesn’t communicate them to their students effectively, the opposite may happen, and students may feel disenfranchised or even slighted.
2. Conveying information is only 50% of being a successful professor.
My experience teaching has taught me that the ability to cogently communicate information is just one part of being a “good” professor. There is a whole other infrastructure that one needs to build and maintain in order to deliver a good class to one’s students: 1) Following through with what you say you will do; 2) Returning assignments in a timely manner; 3) Maintaining and sticking to stated schedules and deadlines; 4) Being a person whose demeanor is open rather than closed so students feel comfortable coming to you with concerns. The experience of college is a stressful one, especially for students who do not come from places of intuited systemic knowhow, from non-dominant cultural backgrounds, or different types of ability. Part of what makes a professor able to profess is to gain the trust and buy-in from one’s students.
3. For many students, written and small-group participation are easier, and safer, forms of class participation.
When I first started teaching at the college level, I valued in-class, extemporaneous spoken participation as more valuable than other forms of participation, and even viewed it as mandatory. As I have progressed through my teaching career, I have come to understand that this does not respect the diversity of students in my classrooms—students for whom English may not be the first language, or students whose very presence in the public space may put them at risk, such as transgender or queer students, for example. Instead of “expecting” students to speak up when they have something to say, I have changed my definition of participation to include multiple forums and venues, including online discussion spaces, and I have changed my rhetoric to explain that it is my job to help students articulate themselves in writing and in speaking and that half-formed thoughts are the norm rather than the exception. All of my classes have some sort of online discussion component, and I frequently assign in-class and out-of-class small group work, even in my large lecture classes. I have also observed that, frequently, the brightest students in the class may be the ones who are most scared to speak up. I am emphatic in my role as supporter rather than evaluator. This does not mean a lowering of standards; rather, it is an expansion in terms of how students can meet high standards of participation.