Teaching

TEACHING PHILOSOPHY 

My teaching is inspired by Jacqueline Jones Royster’s notion of listening. In When the First Voice You Hear Is Not Your Own, Royster proposes that people in general should do more than talk and talk back; people must learn to listen–listen by honoring and respecting the person talking and what they are talking about. What this implies is that learners respond more favorably to spaces where their experiences are seen and their voices are heard. I espouse this philosophy in all of my teaching and mentoring experiences by using the range of my abilities to recognize my students’ potential, respect them as “non-generic human beings”, and appreciate the knowledges that they bring with them.

COURSES TAUGHT

AAAS 890: AFRICAN AMERICAN LANGUAGE AND COMMUNITY IMMERSION. This course is designed for graduate students selecting African American Language as the Africana language of choice for the PhD Africana Language requirement. AAAS 890 is the required subsequent course to AAAS 891, Special Topics in African American Language. This is a 3 credit advanced research independent study course that requires students to conduct a pilot study, which examines African American Language in a community context (e.g., church, school, hair salon, barber shop, community organization, etc.). Ideally, students will build on, extend or replicate the research project they proposed in AAAS 891. Because this course is project-based, students will be responsible for organizing and managing their own work and time.

ENG 302: INTRODUCTION TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
THEME: “OTHER PEOPLE’S ENGLISHES”: A (RE)INTRODUCTION TO THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE. In this course, pre-service teachers are introduced to theories, research, and pedagogies surrounding various Englishes that are spoken in the U.S. Though we will explore a variety of linguistic codes, African American Language (AAL) is the primary language of study. This course challenges students’ assumptions about language, engage them in critical conversations about language diversity, disrupt the common “good English” / “bad English” conception, and problematize monolingual approaches to language instruction. This course will also address the following questions

  • Who sets the standards for spoken and written English? Who is marginalized and who is privileged by these decisions?
  • What is the relationship between language, identity, and dominance?
  • How do language ideologies and social attitudes impact learning?

WRA 150: THE EVOLUTION OF AMERICAN THOUGHT.
THEME:
(Un)silencing, (Re)representing, and (Un)ignoring Voices from Excluded Cultures.” In this section of WRA 150, first-year writing students are asked to participate in an inquiry based learning experience by selecting a culture that they wish to study throughout the duration of this semester. Their learning about this culture transfers across all major course projects–they write, read, research and share this culture in many different ways. In accordance with the theme of the course, the culture that they select to study should be a culture that is silent, misrepresented, or ignored. It is my hope that through their journey writing, researching, reading and sharing in this course, they will (un)silence, (re)represent, or (un)ignore this culture.

WORKSHOPS

AFRICAN AMERICAN LANGUAGE IN FIRST-YEAR WRITING CLASSROOMS

Everywhere around them, African American students are met with messages that suggest that they are linguistically inadequate and linguistically inferior. These negative messages are informed by hegemonic language ideologies that privilege Dominant American English over African American Language. They are reinforced through teachers’ negative language attitudes, the linguistic deficit theories grounding our disciplinary discourses and pedagogical practices, the performance of linguistically diverse students in first-year writing and K-12 classrooms, and the linguistic stereotypes that are upheld by the general public. This ideological structure has done a lot to diminish the value of African American Language, and this has tremendous consequences for students who speak this language. In this workshop, Dr. April Baker-Bell addresses how teachers use African American Language to interrupt monolithic, hegemonic language ideologies that are often perpetuated in first-year writing classrooms, and how teachers can create first-year writing classrooms that support the healthy identity of African American students and their language practices.