Taylor Riley, B.A., M.F.A.
As an adjunct instructor and graduate teaching assistant, I’ve worked to help my students use their creativity and world knowledge to be able to apply it to their writing in the classroom and future career. Every day, my lessons are constructed in a way that each student in class will need to know the current events of the world and be able to discuss and write about them. I want students to know that they have a voice in the classroom, on the page and in the community. My classroom is open to all voices and opinions, and I want every student to want to come to class, as well as feel they could teach someone else something on the topics we discuss. My classroom is structured by me but led by students.
In the classroom, I like to bring together my experiences as a journalist, creative writer and academic by having students workshop their peers’ work and free-write using the Process Theory and by using creative and personal writing to spice up academic work using the Expressivism Theory. The Process Theory allows my students to focus on writing as a process rather than a product by using activities like brainstorming, collaborating and editing. The Expressivism Theory has students writing in a journal each day, focusing on language as a tool for personal rather than social expression, which also has writers focused on the process rather than the product. Using these creative styles in the academic writing setting will help make writing interesting for students and will hopefully guide them to choosing research projects in which they would be excited. The peer editing and workshopping element will teach writers to be constructive in their criticisms of others’ work and also improve their own writing.
I focus much of my readings on current events in the news. Each day in my classroom, students come in knowing the biggest stories posted by unbiased, credible news sources such as NPR, The Washington Post and The New York TImes. They will then free-write a response to a question about a current topic. This, I believe will help students be able to research, understand why a source is credible, choose a stance and further the conversation. Students will also be given readings that will teach them processes of writing, editing and workshopping pieces. Every reading is applicable to not only the classroom but to future projects and careers.
I believe the best teachers are the ones who genuinely care about their students’ success. My parents cared about my education, therefore, I knew that going to school and practicing reading and writing skills were detrimental to my future. As a teacher, I try my best to show that I care about what I’m talking about, and I hope that my students care, too. In my career as a journalist, I’ve learned to be warm and inviting in the interview process, because that is how I get my subjects to answer my questions. The same goes for teaching. I want every student, no matter their background, to know that their voice matters in the classroom and in the world, and their writing can change and progress the future. I am a caring individual who will always put my students and their education first, and I look forward to continuing my career in education to steer the next generation in the right direction.