I am the product of educators. My mother taught special education, my father taught math. My aunt and uncle taught music and math, respectively. Before them, my grandfather served as a headmaster of a small school in rural Mississippi. This upbringing and pedigree, juxtaposed with my industry experience and recent pedagogical refinements, shapes my approach to teaching. Here, I explain this approach in terms of three themes: applicability, immediacy, and evolution.
First, I believe that as an instructor, the material I present will never fully register with students unless I can also demonstrate its relevant, real-life applicability. I think that students are more interested in learning when they can see an immediate payoff or benefit to mastering the material. To this end, my lectures are frequently accentuated not only with realistic, "ripped from the headlines" examples, but also narratives reflective of the 10 years I spent working in industry prior to my time in the academe. Thus, I bring a “been there, done that” credibility to the classroom. As a result, at times I see myself as a hybrid combination of part teacher and part professional resource. Further, I regularly offer myself outside of the classroom as counsel to help students begin their pursuit of a career. I have assisted students with everything from revising resumes and cover letters to networking and personal branding. I am cognizant that my desire to go beyond what is required of me as an instructor may cause some students to view me as a mentor or role model and I welcome it.
I also believe that instructor immediacy in the classroom is imperative to letting students know I am on their side and not an adversary. To demonstrate immediacy, I regularly engage my students in small talk about sports, current events, or their other classes before and after class. I interject appropriate humor and display cues of encouragement during lectures and activities to keep the class light and enjoyable. I demonstrate policy flexibility as needed, understanding that life is unpredictable and no one is perfect. I make myself accessible beyond class and/or office hours. When possible, I eliminate physical obstructions in the classroom space so that I can talk with the class instead of at them. As a minority, I deem it necessary to make my classroom a safe space where students can feel comfortable and free regardless of race, ethnicity, religion or gender. In sum, I take a personal interest in my students. Research indicates that instructor immediacy indicates likability and student performance is positively associated with instructor likability. In other words, my students are more likely to experience optimal learning outcomes when I exhibit immediacy and create an environment that is welcoming and inviting.
Finally, I understand that my evolution as a teacher is ongoing. Particularly in the current age where technology wields significant influence over the classroom experience, I accept the challenge and responsibility of taking risks and trying new things to enhance my efficiency and efficacy. I try to improve by studying associated instructional literature, attending pedagogy focused classes and workshops, inviting colleagues to observe and critique my technique, and observing more experienced teachers at work. I solicit feedback from my students by administering a replica of the course evaluation at the midpoint of the semester. If the scores are low, I request my students anonymously tell me what they like, what they dislike, and what they would like to see going forward. At the crux of it all, my professional progression as a teacher is dependent upon my ability and willingness to learn from my colleagues and my students.
Communication, Innovation and Progressive Change Marquette University, Spring 2019
Course designed to help students recognize the influence of technological and social innovation in individual, organizational, and societal contexts and the role that communication plays in the dissemination of new ideas.
Financial Communication and Investor Relations Marquette University: Fall 2017 - Present
Asynchronous, online graduate course designed to help students articulate the origin, definition, facets, and practical relevance of investor relations, demonstrate practical mastery of the investor relations function in organizations, and analyze, critique and/or extend contemporary investor relations scholarship.
Managerial Communication Marquette University: Spring 2017 - Present
Course designed to define and demonstrate communication skills to accomplish managerial functions, describe how communication shapes and is shaped by current workplace trends, analyze key issues impacting managers, and identify the implications for workplace practice.
Corporate Communication Marquette University: Fall 2016 - Present
Course designed to help students articulate the relationship between communication and other business functions, discuss and analyze major communication issues in a corporate setting, and critically consider corporate communication practices.
Organizational Communication Marquette University: Fall 2016 - Present University of Texas at Austin: Fall 2014 - Spring 2015
Course designed to help students understand organizational theory, identify communication issues in organizational contexts, apply various theoretical perspectives in solving organizational problems, and synthesize contemporary organizational scholarship with prescriptions from the business and popular press.
Professional Communication Skills University of Texas at Austin: Spring 2012 - Spring 2014
Basic course designed to enhance students' communication, analytical thinking and critical listening skills through participation in and critique of public speech.