Teaching Statement

My primary aim as a course instructor is for students to engage autonomously, and to articulate demands for knowledge and practical experience as opposed to simply meeting expectations. To be sure, classrooms can be places to foster skills for self-governance, collaboration, and collegiality. But they can also be unpredictable, psychically charged, and frankly unsafe. In response to this range of possibilities, I believe my first task as an instructor is to initiate dialogue as an end-in-itself. Lecturing as a genre of storytelling that aims to foster engaged listening is one part of this equation. Another, however, is inviting students to participate in conversations and to experiment by drawing from their own knowledge base. To carry out both tasks simultaneously, my teaching style involves frequently asking questions and provoking debate with the aim of giving students an opportunity to speak. Providing this opportunity is my goal regardless of whether the class has 12 students or 200. Verbal contributions allow me to rephrase the student’s thought by connecting to a larger discursive field. And if I achieve this goal with any degree of success, the student will leave the session in a better way than when they came in.


I have put together numerous strategies for teaching lectures, seminars, and tutorials. To challenge the perception that lectures are impersonal, for instance, I tend to devote a large portion of them to conversationally extrapolating from selected information offered on slides. By including sparse but pertinent information on the screen, and by using the screen as a projection of my own way of thinking, I can make the necessary connections while affording myself the time to offer useful illustrations, interventions, additions, and anecdotes. I also consistently use visual media to invite a deeper analysis or historical touch point. In seminars, I generally opt to foreground discussion and debate with the help of textual and visual resources. I leave students to debate amongst themselves, and re-direct to core themes and problems when it feels appropriate. In tutorials, my aim is to facilitate collaboration and problem solving. I rely mainly on group work, informal discussions, and experiments to get a sense of where the material has landed. I also encourage weekly tutorial self-evaluation and opportunities for commentary and peer review, which has been very helpful when it comes to reading the room.


My workshop in Computational Arts engages students in a collaborative, media-lab environment in a way that strongly aligns my teaching philosophy with the nebulous field of research-creation. I have found that providing students freedom to explore the intersections between critical theory and creative practical work requires a professorial skill akin to graduate supervision, in that it requires one to be attuned to a different tempo of progress. Checking in with the students on long-term creative projects requires a dialogical approach as opposed to a strictly evaluative one. Workshopping further provides an opportunity for students with specific skills to make connections with each other. Once a supportive environment like this is achieved, I will gently introduce the perennial question of whether artistic research produces knowledge.


In undergraduate teaching, my assignment scheme varies to meet the specific level and design of the course. For example, while working with senior undergraduates in fourth year seminars, I find it extremely helpful to assign a research proposal several weeks beforehand as a way of establishing a link with students about their work. Assessments in lower-level core classes, on the other hand, require less focus on self-directed research and more on structured writing assignments, tests, and group participation. Across the board, I have experimented with roundtable discussions, debate teams, ethnographic projects, and research-creation exercises. I have also experimented with alternative evaluation methods such as peer assessment, professional development (publishing and conference organizing), and technology-enhanced experiential learning.


As someone who identifies as LGBT+, I feel it is my personal responsibility to foster inclusiveness for students who belong to any minoritized group. I aim to make my classroom a safe space built on egalitarian principles, support, and solidarity. In my explanation of participation grades, for example, I emphasize the need to balance the student’s contributions with those who feel more entitled to speak than others. I also regularly connect course themes to topics and stories that acknowledge gender diversity and discrimination, the social causes of mental illness, and the plight of those who suffer under racism and ethnocentrism. I continually aim to put Western traditions and canons into sharp critical perspective, and to counter the ableism, sexism, and racism that has too often been perpetuated in the name of literatures belonging to the so-called canon. From this point of view, the work of “decolonizing” is neither a metaphor nor an obligation but a necessity and a perennially unfinished task. In acknowledging this, teaching inclusively means acknowledging my own privilege as a white settler and my unavoidably partial views, and admitting when I’m wrong. Beyond that, I stand for justice for minoritized students in the classroom and institutionally. I stay politically informed, and I make myself available as a support for students who may be struggling.


I have been fortunate with opportunities to take on mentorship roles for graduate students, whether as supervisor, committee member, or examiner. Graduate supervision in general requires a different skill set than undergraduate teaching that I am continually learning more about. I have also taken on substantial mentorship roles with many Teaching Assistants over the years. I work closely with my teaching staff to ensure consistency in evaluation, and I encourage them to pursue their research. In the classroom, I have mentored undergraduate students both in conference organizing and academic publishing. For example, in 2017, I initiated a project with Mediapolis: Journal of Cities and Culture to publish peer-reviewed versions of student term papers from a capstone coursein the journal’s inaugural Student Voices section. In general, I find that mentorship and supervisory roles are uncharted and left unspoken for among colleagues, and for that reason deserve more critical attention and care.