As a TESOL teacher educator and an English language specialist, I entered IUP’s English department with a vision to promote the teacher-scholar model in my pursuit of educational equity with respect to IUP students and colleagues.
Professionally, the teacher-scholar model represents my teaching and research philosophy. Essentially, the most important facet in my journey as a professor is the continuance of perfecting my teaching by learning from my students and meeting their academic and professional goals. Through my teaching, I desire to accumulate the students’ lived experiences into the design of course curricula. To this end, it has been a learning experience for me to integrate the issues of social justice and diversity into the content of ENGL 202: Research Writing. This is a timely topic as we enter a historical time period where issues of race, gender, language, sexuality, disability, religion, and class need to be discussed more openly, and generate social action ideas where students can become agents of change. As I continue to teach Research Writing and other liberal studies courses in the English department, my goal is to continue bringing a variety of genres for students to begin thinking about what it means to be agents of change in this era of globalization and diversity.
In the areas of mentoring Teaching Associates, teaching graduate TESOL students, and advising doctoral students with their dissertation work, the teacher-scholar model also is appropriate. My relationship with the Teaching Associates commenced when I first walked into their classroom as an observer. With the completion of this responsibility, our mentoring relationship has burgeoned as we begin to think about our own pedagogies and the ways in which we connect (or may not) with different students. We have come to realize that teaching is a complex, developmental journey. It is not only about the content knowledge we bring into the courses. It is about the learner pedagogical knowledge coupled with the content pedagogical knowledge that enables us to incorporate effective teaching strategies in multiple contexts. Specifically, Kristen Getchell and I have begun a dialogue journal study where we exchange e-mail letters with one another to discuss our teaching (mostly writing classes) and find ways to bring in new and alternative pedagogies to engage our students in writing courses. This study idea emerged when we sat down to discuss my observation of her teaching of ENGL 101 in fall 2008 semester.
The Teacher-Scholar Model also is important in teaching MA/TESOL students as they struggle to understand what it means to bring theory into practice in different teaching contexts. This will be my first semester teaching graduate TESOL students at IUP. For ENGL 694: Observation in (English Language) Teaching course, I have designed a field component where MA/TESOL students observe different instructors teaching in the English department. The choice of English instructors over ESL instructors stems from the fact that the university has limited resources as pertaining to ESL classrooms and instruction. Although they may not be observing ESL teachers teaching ESL courses, I believe the notion of what it means to be an effective teacher for diverse learners can come from other teaching contexts as well. I am looking forward to working with the MA/TESOL students to help them “see” and “understand” what good teaching is as a way to bridge theory and practice.
In advising dissertation students, my goal is to advise my students to think about and generate their dissertation topics throughout their coursework at IUP. Thus, they will come to theorize the teacher-scholar model in their dissertation topics. I believe that our dissertation work is an extension of who we are as teachers, and the influence that we want to have on our future students. Therefore, I have encouraged all my dissertation students (i.e., as a chair or as reader on a committee) to begin thinking about how their biographies have come to shape the topics that they would like to explore since it is important to look inward as we begin to look at the lives of others in our study.
Finally, as a way to bring theory into practice and uphold the Teacher-Scholar Model, I am organizing the first annual Teacher Scholar Symposium for the IUP English Department Graduate students. This 2009 Teacher Scholar Symposium (Date: September 25, 2009, Friday) is sponsored by the Graduate Studies in Composition and TESOL. The highlights for this event are as follows: (1) Guest speaker and the research workshop facilitator: Dr. Scott Kiesling, Linguistics Department Chair at the University of Pittsburgh; (2) Concurrent Sessions of Student Presentations; and (3) Mentor of the Year Award. For this event, I have formed a planning committee (Dr. Lisya Seloni, Marlen Harrison, Whitney Tudor, Amanda Yannella, Qisi Zhang, Lan Wang, Johnny Hrebik, Daniel Baughman). We began our monthly meetings as of December 2008 to begin preparing for this annual event.
The list below is a compilation of different areas of my Teacher-Scholar Model. I look forward to expanding my Teacher-Scholar Model in the years to come at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.