Title: English Instructor
Office: Main Campus C118
Education: Bachelor of Arts in English from Western Illinois University; Master of Arts in English from Western Illinois University
Teaching Philosophy/Personal Statement:
I became an English teacher because I remember how difficult it can be to understand the writing process, and I know how that process can be made even more challenging with the wrong teacher. Most students sitting in a writing course, whether it is a developmental or an introductory composition course, are not excited about the course on the first day of class. In fact, many dread the experience. “I can’t write” or “I’m not good at English” are common responses I have heard frequently, especially on that first day of class. But writing can be enjoyable, and at times even fun, and that is what I want my students to experience while they learn how to become better writers.
All college graduates should be able to communicate through writing effectively, and effective communication can only be achieved when basic rhetorical concepts and the mechanics of language are mastered. To help my students communicate effectively, I incorporate three techniques into my courses: I promote critical thinking through reflection and analysis; I validate student knowledge through writing communities; and I reinforce the revision process through grading techniques.
In order for students to write effective arguments, they must first be able to think critically about the texts they read and about the social contexts in which the texts were written. To achieve this component, I implement reading assignments that require both reflective and analytical responses, regardless of the course level.
Whether I am teaching a developmental class that focuses on reading strategies or a composition class that develops research techniques, I can validate student knowledge by establishing a writing community. This community not only reinforces critical thinking, but it also helps students to work efficiently and productively with others. In this environment, students first acknowledge their own personal experiences and then form connections between those experiences and their peers’ experiences. I can therefore validate what the student already knows, but I can also build on those initial concepts and help them to generate an effective argument.
Understanding revision means moving beyond simple edits, and I reinforce that philosophy by allowing students to revise their drafts at any time during the semester. The purpose of revising a draft is to demonstrate an acceptable level of understanding, but that level of understanding may take the student several attempts. For me, assigning a student grade does not necessitate a stop sign in the writing process. To me, college courses need to uphold standards to which all students must adhere, and allowing students the opportunity to revise graded essays does not exempt them from those standards. To the contrary, revising graded essays forces students to take those standards more seriously and seek additional help, like tutoring, if necessary.
M.A. in Literature and Language, Western Illinois University (2004)
B.A. in English, Western Illinois University (2002)
Previous Teaching Experience:
Tenured English Faculty, Carl Sandburg College (2011 – present)
Tenured English Faculty, Shawnee Community College (2005 – 2011)
Adjunct Faculty, Southeastern Community College (2005)
Adjunct Faculty, Carl Sandburg College (2004 – 2005)
Adjunct Faculty, Western Illinois University (2004)
Teaching Assistant, Western Illinois University (2003 – 2004)
Developmental English Coordinator, Carl Sandburg College (2012 – present)
Outcomes Assessment Chair, Carl Sandburg College (2013 – present)
Student Newspaper Advisor, Shawnee Community College (2005 – 2011)