Statement of Teaching Interests
I want to become a teacher that never forgets that it will always be about the students.
I want to be motivational, and I want students to enjoy learning. I want to find ways to make learning fun and meaningful. I want students to learn how all aspects of learning have practical implications, even if they are not readily apparent. I want to always be surprised by my students, and for them to be surprised by me. I want to learn from them, so that I can continue to meet their needs effectively.
To this end, in the classes that I have taught I make it my goal to incorporate a wide variety of teaching methods aimed at connecting with the needs of a large cross section of learners. I am a huge fan of incorporating film, visuals, and videos both in the classroom as well as online. Further, I am a huge proponent of hybrid classes that extend classroom learning to online interfaces such as Blackboard or Moodle. Using the required readings as a guideline, I construct a teaching environment that centers on critical discussion stimulated by probing questions. In guiding my students to help each other arrive at a main idea or concept I try to instill the notion that fun in learning is not simply to be achieved by finding an unquestionable response. Rather learning is really about the discovering of how an individual arrives at a specific endpoint while recognizing all opposing points of view. Teaching classes that are comprised of diverse student identities and backgrounds also falls nicely into place with my method of teaching as exposure to multiple perspectives help to re-reinforce the importance of long-term learning by bridging theory with experience.
The same commitment to critical analysis, exploring multiple perspectives, and forging connections across questions that propel my research also inspire my teaching. Using a combination of critical book reviews and weekly reaction memo’s I provide several opportunities for students to critically analyze and reflection on assigned readings and films. I also encourage them to draw from current event sources to either support or questions the theoretical underpinnings of the course material.
Further, my own writing pedagogy has reinforced self-reflections in regard to my own writing process, how I develop as a teacher, and how understanding my own writing process is critical to incorporating ways to be a better educator and motivator to my students. What I mean to say is that for me, teaching my students how to present a written persuasive argument that guides their readers through a specific argument is equally as important as guiding them through understandings of the rationale for theoretical underpinnings with the field of Political Science. In this way writing becomes an extension of the learning process and not just a means of attaining a grade. To conclude, I aspire for my students—my primary audience—to concretely reflect on my teaching philosophy in a way that will motivate and inspire their learning processes in a positive way.
During my graduate training, I was fortunate to serve as a teaching assistant in several undergraduate courses that focused on the Caribbean and Latin American region and that directly framed my research interests. The opportunity to provide teaching support to my professors and to learn first hand how to be an effective teacher later helped me to successfully command and manage my own undergraduate classes in the department of Politics and International Relations, as well as in the English department at my university.
The majority of my teaching experience comes from four classes: INR 2001 – Introduction to International Relations, CPO 2002 – Introduction to Comparative Politics, CPO 4034 – Politics of Development and Underdevelopment, and ENC 1101- Writing and Rhetoric I. INR 2001 is a freshman course that introduces students to concepts of power and national interests, as well as to the interactions that take place among various actors. Students take away from this course the knowledge and skills to better understand the world round them. CPO 2002 is another freshman class geared towards exploring the political diversity of the world through a series of theoretically informed country case studies and thematic issues. In this way students gain an understanding of the various historical, political, economic, geographic, and moral aspects that shape the similarities between and the differences amongst states. CPO 4034 is an upper division elective course that challenges students to apply critical analysis to understanding the causes of development and underdevelopment in the developing world. By examining the major theoretical approaches to understanding development problem and the various actors involved, students take away the skills needed to better assess the various development strategies and approaches used. ENC 1101 is a first year writing course that helps students to strengthen their writing by teaching them how to apply rhetoric strategies to different writing styles. At the end of this course, students have a better understanding of the writing process, as well as how to write more effectively.
Related to the interdisciplinary nature of the my research, I would be interested in teaching any course on international relations issues and on the patterns of development and underdevelopment of states within the global political economy. I am fully prepared to teach courses in Introduction to International Relations, Politics of Development and Underdevelopment, as well as courses in American Foreign Policy, and International Political Economy. Finally, I would like to propose teaching a course that explores topics in Globalization and Caribbean Politics. Such a course would be titled: Foreign Policy Challenges of Small States: A Look at the Contemporary Caribbean. This course examines how diverse and small developing states of the Caribbean have adapted to the evolving patterns of interactions within the global realm by focusing on the themes of migration, global markets, the environment, and non-traditional security issues. In teaching any one of these classes, it is my goal to incorporate a wide variety of teaching methods and interdisciplinary approaches and to construct a teaching environment that centers on critical discussion stimulated by probing questions.