Teacher Development

My approach to mentoring colleagues across disciplines in their endeavors to teach with writing always centers a rich understanding of students’ needs, teachers’ goals, and situated pedagogical practices capable of honoring both. Through the professional development work I do with teachers across disciplines through WAES and elsewhere, I help foster cultures of teaching and learning that take up and innovate sound approaches to writing pedagogy that support students’ diverse ways of knowing and doing. For example, in my work with the Education Justice Project, I facilitate writing workshops for incarcerated students as well as pedagogical workshops for their teachers and tutors. I knew the students were already versed in writing studies concepts and that their teachers and tutors had few opportunities for professional development around teaching with writing. So, I crafted linked sets of workshops on topics like productively giving and receiving feedback that offered the students and their mentors a shared vocabulary and practices to take up together. I’ve taken similar approaches to helping spur dialogic teaching and learning in my many long-term mentoring and curricular change projects with teachers across disciplines and institutions. For instance, at SFSU I assisted and then co-taught a writing intensive hospitality and business management course. In the process, I helped my collaborators, faculty in the College of Business, refine and scaffold an existing professional research project which students found valuable but challenging. My research with students in the course revealed the particular ways they felt unprepared for such work following their prerequisite lower division composition courses and led us to design and implement an intermediating course attending to disciplinary genres that acted as a bridge, preparing students to tackle the richly complex disciplinary research project to come. This early experience building a longitudinal mentoring relationship, leveraging my writing studies expertise to help disciplinary faculty attend closely to their students’ literate development, continues to animate my work, including my sustained mentoring and action research in STEM classes the past four years on the WAES project (more info on this project is linked above). In my long-term mentoring with the teaching staff of a Physics course on nuclear weapons and arms control, I listened carefully to the instructors’ pedagogical goals and helped them innovate materials and practices that made those goals more explicit and consistent for students – an approach that can make learning more widely accessible for students from diverse backgrounds. Having had the privilege of working with so many dedicated teachers, I am acutely aware of the many ways dangerous, normative notions of teaching and learning can be perpetuated by well-meaning teachers. So, my mentoring work focuses on helping teachers build complex notions of writing and research-backed pedagogical practices that can support students’ agency as learners and their varied pathways.