Teaching Philosophy

As a teacher, I strive to not only transfer information but also to give students the opportunity to challenge their preconceptions, develop critical thinking skills, stimulate curiosity, and contextualize the material covered in terms of “real world” importance. I hope to achieve the latter by imparting skills valued on the job market and by allowing students to better navigate and discuss important but complex social issues with greater confidence. I believe that my role as a teacher is to guide students to deeper understanding on a topic as well as a facilitator for productive discussion. To that end, I hold myself responsible for understanding the material in my courses according to a variety of critical interpretations and making complex information simple to access but rewarding to explore.  

Equally, I hold my students responsible for engaging the material in a way that enriches the learning experience not only for themselves but also their peers. I endeavor to facilitate an environment of respectful but intense mixture of both interactive lecture and Socratic discussion, where students are intrigued by the material but not fearful of experimentation or growth. To this end, I do not place heavy value on formalized grading for quizzes and homework assignments. It is my view that assessments should be diagnostic, indicating to students where they might improve and allow them room to grow. Assessments should not be prescriptive and punish students for learning differently from an arbitrary administrative model. As such, my classroom model uses only one prescriptive grade, the final one, to allow administration to know whether they ought to be permitted into more advanced courses. All other assessments are diagnostic in nature and do not follow the traditional A-F model. Instead, they rely on a feedback model which points out both strengths and weaknesses in various areas including memorization, critical thinking, and communications and advise accordingly. Whether this model relies more on peer evaluation or my own scrutiny varies between classes. Regardless, I ensure students are aware of both their strengths and weaknesses by means of periodic updates and feedback.

I put my goals into practice by breaking from a traditional lecture model except for relatively basic information and instruction. Beyond that, my classroom environment consists of discussion and academic exercises including creative writing, independent projects, contextual historical or situational analysis, and group-based presentations which are based primarily on peer evaluation. Such an environment presents unique challenges and requires a deep commitment on the part of the instructor, but offers a far deeper and beneficial experience for students seeking instruction in sociology and criminology than traditional lecture models.


Experience

Instructor

2019-Present

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA

Graduate Teaching Assistant

2018-Present

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

Blacksburg, VA

  • Introduction to Africana Studies
  • Senior Seminar in Sociology
  • Drugs and Society
  • Social Research Methods

Teaching Assistant

2013-2014

Concord University

Athens, WV

  • University 100
  • Introduction to Sociology