Integrated Course Design

(See here for Course Evaluations & Observations)

 

I am a transdisciplinary scholar of language and literacy with the ability to design courses that integrate theories of learning from bilingual education, special education, ethnic studies, and sociocultural literacy. Throughout my teaching career, I have taught across grades and learning environments in New York City—English language arts and social studies to multilingual middle school students with disabilities in Brooklyn, reason and rhetoric to middle school students in Harlem, Black studies themed courses for high school students at The Chapin School on the Upper East Side, first year composition at LaGuardia Community College in Queens, and literacy methods to undergraduate and graduate students at Hunter College School of Education in Manhattan. In Palo Alto, California, at Stanford University, I had the privilege of guiding first year students in finding their own voices within academic discourse in first year writing and rhetoric.

 

All of these experiences have deepened my critical consciousness about the dynamism of diverse learning spaces and the necessity of using social justice pedagogy to facilitate a caring and critical community. For most of my life, I have lived in the intersections. I am a cisgendered, African American woman who was raised in a mixed status immigrant family and Caribbean neighborhood. I am a follower of Christ and a practitioner of African diasporic spirituality. I am fluent in African American Language, Geechee, and Haitian Creole. I am a twice exceptional, neurodiverse learner who is both gifted and learning disabled. I simultaneously have benefitted from Medicaid, food stamps, and scholarships to elite private schools. My positionality informs my pedagogy, which centers on honoring the intersectional experiences of community members.

Each person deserves to be heard. As an educator, I choose course texts and learning experiences that would allow me to share my own counter narrative and those of the multiple marginalized communities that I represent, according to legal scholar Kimberlé Crenshaw’s theory of intersectionality. I strive to create a welcoming learning environment that celebrates the dignity of each person, and effective discussion strategies are paramount. Woven throughout various aspects of my course design are culturally relevant and inclusive instruction. For this work, I draw on my graduate training in teaching urban adolescents with disabilities, reading and writing theories, and teaching multilingual youth. I modeled and instructed students in translanguaging pedagogy to uphold the linguistic resources that emergent bilingual youth and adults bring to the classroom.

Having an intersectional and critical consciousness was essential to my ability to successfully teach literacy to students with disabilities and multilingual learners. As a certified special education teacher of students in grades 7-12, I taught Integrated Co-Teaching classes in English language arts and social studies. I managed a caseload of about 25 students with disabilities across grades 7 and 8, drafting their IEPs and coordinating services with other providers as necessary. Because of my skill in writing IEPs, I was elected to serve on the IEP Quality Review committee for the school. In addition, I collaborated with English as a New Language teachers to differentiate lessons for both students with disabilities and multilingual learners. I used high leverage practices such as visual cues, repetition, multilingual glossaries, and individually-tailored graphic organizers to create culturally relevant, inclusive lessons.

As a Mellon Humanities Alliance Graduate Teaching Fellow, I integrated culturally relevant and inclusive pedagogies with racial literacy in my composition courses, which had the themes of "Multilingual Voices" and "Black Lives Matter." When we held staged readings of the drama anthology Facing Our Truth: Ten Minute Plays on Trayvon, Race, and Privilege, students benefited from whole group and small group discussions that exposed them to multiple perspectives, clarified their understanding, and fostered improved ways of thinking. By examining Black poetry from the antebellum period through the 1960s’ Black Arts Movement and analyzing music videos, song lyrics, news segments, and documentaries, all class members were able to find entry points into the lesson by making connections with their own lives and family histories. Overall, we explicitly drew connections between colonialism, immigration, and racial stereotypes, problematizing immigration narratives that overly center Latina/o/x perspectives, silence indigenous voices, and reinforce anti-Blackness.

 

As an instructor of undergraduate and graduate level teacher education courses at Hunter College, I taught foundational aspects of sociocultural literacy instruction to undergraduate and graduate students from a range of disciplinary majors, experiences teaching, and certification levels. In Building Foundations of Literacy, I taught students to use strength-based, translanguaging pedagogy to support multilingualism, to identify and scaffold disciplinary literacy skills for multilingual students and those with disabilities, and to use backwards design to create standards-aligned unit plans and lessons. In Teaching Reading to Students with Learning Disabilities, I instructed graduate students in multisensory, systematic phonics instruction, such as the Wilson Reading System and Recipe for Reading programs. I also taught students to conduct various assessments of reading to monitor student progress.

In the program in writing and rhetoric, my first year course theme was Rhetorics of Race, Inequality, Language, and Education. We examined critical debates regarding language, race, and inequality, how they intersect with each other, and how scholars, politicians, and activists employ various rhetorical strategies to persuade their audiences in these debates. On topics such as critical race theory, bilingual education, affirmative action, the model minority myth, and more, we interrogated the dynamic and intersectional nature of power and privilege, how rhetoric is used to construct these social positions, and how national and international debates on race, inequality, and language connect to these experiences and our future career aspirations.

 

My range of experiences teaching developmental literacy, first year composition, building foundations of literacy, and reading strategies for students with learning disabilities make me exceptionally qualified to be an Assistant Professor of Adolescent Literacy and Linguistics/ Black Literacy and Linguistics/Social Justice Education at a department committed to decolonial pedagogy and social justice. In all courses, I would use an integrated course design that highlighted marginalized perspectives of race, language, gender, sexuality, and ability. Courses on literacy instruction would integrate materials on multilingualism, race, gender, and dis/ability. I am particularly interested in bridging scholarship on systematic phonics instruction and word study with decolonial and culturally responsive methods. Prodding students to think critically about the complexity of lived realities, historical perspectives on power and privilege, and intersectional identities is critical to humanizing them and building a reflexive, critically conscious scholarly community. It is from this perspective that teaching and learning that is truly transformational can occur.