American English Institute
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Courses: AEIS 112, 111, 110, 108, 101
In my classes you will:
- Make connections to lived experiences and real-world challenges.
- Practice foundational, transferrable skills.
I was invited into the Teaching Academy because:
- I participated in the UO Summer Teaching Institute.
In what ways are you working to make your teaching inclusive?
In the two courses I teach most often (AEIS 112: Advanced Academic Writing & AEIS 108: Advanced Reading Academic Discourse), students pick their own research topic. This can be a topic related to their major content classes, or a topic of personal interest. Not only is this helpful to boost interest and motivation to sustain them through a demanding assignment, but also it is helpful for me to learn about what interests my students. Often this can inform future articles we use in class.
In smaller ways, I try to include each of my students in the content of the course or activities. A few examples: For my writing class, instead of making up names for examples on a class PowerPoint or handout, I use my students' names. This small gesture often gets their attention and brings a smile to their faces. During in class writing workshops, students self designate an "expert area"—say, cohesion, theses, sentence structure—either by putting their name under that category on the board, or wearing a name tag with the learning area as their name. These categories they assign to themselves are areas of writing we have practiced in class. The student expert is the person other students should check with when they have a question in that particular area of writing. This is helpful for me as well since I am not overwhelmed by student questions during this activity. But more importantly, students get to share their area of knowledge with their peers. We maximize the knowledge in the room by including everyone in the learning process. If a student is at all unsure of how to answer a peer's question, they can then come to me and we talk it through.
A last example is including thought-provoking or well-crafted comments from students’ discussion board in the next week's module. This is called "Discussion Board Re-Cap." Everyone gets highlighted at least once during the quarter.
What do you do in terms of professional engagement with the teaching and learning culture on campus or nationally?
I have attended several TEP workshops. I really love these as much for meeting colleagues in other departments as the helpful content the workshops provide. I also connect my students with the Tutoring and Engagement Center and the Eugene Public Library quarterly. I regularly attend and present at Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) regional and international conferences. I am a reader of blogs, articles and books that deal with pedagogy, classroom dynamics, or the skill I am currently teaching.
I am most interested in the cross-pollination of ideas across campus. A few AEI instructors and Composition instructors have been working together in a smaller academic writing group. I am a frequent event attender of different departmental speakers. Some in the last year have been lecturers hosted by the UO School of Law, Center for Latino/a American & Latin American Studies, the Composition Program, Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art, the Division of Equity and Inclusion, the Department of Linguistics and the African Studies Program. I'm a big believer in an interdisciplinary approach to learning and teaching, so the current work of other departments and offices are just as important to me as the work coming out of my own field.
In what ways was your teaching in this course research-led—informed by research on how students learn and inflected by UO's research mission?
In my writing class (AEIS 112) students have very focused course objectives and expectations. These are not only explained in the course syllabus, but also in each major assignment. This particular course has a central assignment that other smaller assignments revolve around. This final assignment is done in phases, and the connection of these smaller assignments to their final assignment are outlined for students. Students have a Week 5 check-in where they reflect about their particular writing processes. This check-in is not only to push students to identify their own creative process. Part of my AEIS 108 final project is a reflection on the project components and the student's challenges with and pleasures in the assignment. All of my courses usually have external resources for assignment assistance hyperlinked on our Canvas homepage.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
I was a part of a teacher training summer session with a group of Iraqi English Language, Linguistics and Literature professors. I was teaching a Language and Culture class. Part of this class was for these professors to participate in a "Human Library" project. The Human Library works like a real library except the books to be "checked out" are living books. Each book has picked a title that connects with a piece of their identity. The reader of this living book then sits down and has a conversation with this book about this particular aspect of their life. The Human Library was started to reduce prejudice and challenge our assumptions about one another. For me, the Human Library is also a forum to assuage curiosities we have about one another. It is a safe space for asking dumb questions about one another. I gathered a list of living books for our participants. One of the books on the list was "Lesbian." An Iraqi colleague was very leery of this book being included on our list. He felt this may offend our professors since LGBTQ issues were a taboo subject in Iraq. After some time discussing, he conceded that since the professors could choose a book to read and were not being forced to read any book, it would be OK to keep this living book listed. Perhaps not too surprisingly, "Lesbian" was our most popular book amongst the professors. However, because of our living book’s time constraints, she sat with one professor only, a long-time professor of literature. His research focus in literature was around the different manifestations of love. For him, this was the first lesbian that he had consciously sat down with and had a conversation about love. The conversations were only to last 20 minutes. Their conversation lasted double that. He related to me how grateful he was for this experience—I don't think he’ll ever forget it. This simple event—creating a chance for people to ask real questions and get real answers—was one of my favorite professional moments at UO.
How Do You Find Your Creativity?
I keep my activities and endeavors diverse. I like to see where the cognitive overlaps are in disparate experiences. Moments like this have been teaching English to CEOs of companies while I play in a band that tours the Berlin squat scene. Working as an advocate for refugees and immigrants while driving a cab in Seattle at night. Sleeping under bridges while bike touring in Pakistan and then drinking tea in the living room of ex-Parliament members. Taking graduate classes and being a DJ on a pirate radio station. Maybe it is being a somewhat scattered person, and being OK with that. I love the output when the input is varied.