Every student must be honored and given a chance to succeed individually.
Because I believe so strongly in the individual student, a defining feature of my classroom is variation. I use a variety of delivery methods because teaching is rhetoric: it should embrace “every available means.” I try not to repeat lesson formats too often and use at least two learning styles in every lesson. I am not afraid of quiet time in class, especially when it gives students time to draft writing, asking questions as they go, or to think critically about difficult texts. Many lessons encourage class discussion, but I am just as likely to have students think on their own or in small groups. Sometimes, however, I like to be active and nontraditional. My students have sculpted with Play-Doh, colored with crayons, made posters to hang around campus, visited museums, played games, and done myriad other things. These various teaching methods reach the variety of student learning methods, but also mean that content and delivery match, making learning more memorable.
Teaching in the humanities also allows me to respect individual students, as I strive for inclusive courses. When I design courses, I ensure that there is a diversity of authors, so that the voices of the classroom express the stories and ideas of a variety of genders, religions, sexualities, races, social status, or academic training. I point out the variety to the students so that I demonstrate and model the value I find in the breadth of the human condition, encouraging my students to value worlds outside their own. Historically, writing and literature classes have been particularly positioned to meet the main goals of a humanities education: to foster self-awareness, respect for others, and discussion between groups. By showing the range of voices, opinions, and experiences in our cultural landscape, I hope that students will see that all stories are valid for inquiry. This then helps students garner more empathy for those not like themselves, a societal good we increasingly need to bring into focus amid the noise of today. But, more than just seeing the worth of others, having a wide range of stories in my curriculum helps students see the validity of their own stories, which gives them the confidence to become more engaged and more honest in the writing process.