TEACHING PHILOSOPHY

 

Varied Approaches

What I most enjoy about teaching language, literature, and culture is seeing students learn more than they expected to learn. To this end, I stay energetic and model best practices within and across disciplines. I get students to engage each other's ideas and work together as a learning community. I give each class a distinct rhythm by incorporating warmups, group or pair work, explanation, discussion, and student presentations. I address diverse learning styles by emphasizing conceptual overviews, exercises on specifics, writing and speaking practice, activities that target close reading, grammar and vocabulary games, and cultural simulations and debates. Material such as films, songs, photos, and maps provides a hook that keeps courses relevant while complementing books and articles. Assigning reading questionnaires that feature critical strategies anchors discussion in prior reflection. I often make extra materials, for example coursepacks that wed primary and secondary sources to learning outcomes, multimedia such as film and TV excerpts, and lessons placed online that walk learners through concepts and double as study guides.

Reflective Teaching

I am also focused on how classroom dynamics evolve and track student evaluations to fine-tune courses. I make sure students progress comfortably and can see me for extra advice. I post carefully structured sets of resources to our course site to make expectations transparent and facilitate updates. I invite colleagues to visit my classes for additional feedback. I have had particular success using technology to amplify effective pedagogical practices with my "French through Songs" educational website, which averages 40,000 hits per month from an international audience. Current projects are helping me prioritize input-based learning, meaningful, contextualized acquisition of material, and contemporary topics such as parity, globalization, and immigration. My participation in Southwestern University's Representing Gender and Situating Place Paideia clusters, as part of an initiative for intentional, integrative, interdisciplinary teaching and learning, involves both collaboration on reflective teaching and planning for team-taught seminars.

Challenging Courses

Staying in touch with the evolution of French and Francophone language, culture, and society keeps me attuned to student interests. I remain current in several fields through conferences, professional memberships, and listserves. I design courses where students expand their knowledge, discover other cultures in depth, and continually improve their speaking, reading, and writing skills. As a teacher and mentor, I balance academic rigor with a relaxed atmosphere and use professional development experiences to further my own lifelong learning, for instance a 2013 ADFL Summer Seminar, a 2007 ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview Assessment Workshop, and a 2008 AATF Summer Seminar in Switzerland and Belgium. Drawing on this background strengthens the outcomes I assess each year as Department Chair, from sharpening students' intercultural knowledge, to ensuring graduate school placements and French Teaching Assistantship scholarships, to instilling global citizenship skills for any career. I empower students to analyze issues across methodologies, to appreciate multiple perspectives at all proficiency levels, to articulate a complex understanding of cultural differences, and to apply what they learn toward helping others.