I like to think of myself as a lifelong learner. This way of thinking allows me the opportunity to recycle what I have learned in life; mistakes and slip-ups become lessons for students. I often consider Oscar Wilde's famous view on personal blunders: "Experience is simply the name we give our mistakes." He was right. After I earned a master's degree from Columbia University's Teachers College, I began a career in higher education. As an Adjunct Professor of English, I have taught several freshmen and sophomore composition courses as well as a few literature courses. I have also taught online. Although online teaching has its challenges, the accessibility aspect is invaluable. Technology opens up a window of opportunities and provides students the flexibly to work while earning a college degree. It is vital that teachers stay connected to the latest technology while continuing to incorporate proven teaching strategies.
My experience as a playwright on New York City's 42nd Street and my work with literacy have allowed me the opportunity to become a more effective leader. I still teach the canonical works of literature to my students, but I also incorporate new works that have become an important part of our culture. It is extremely important to connect with students and to let them know that reading can inform as well as entertain. My writing pedagogy mirrors my optimistic outlook on life. On one hand, I am a leader in the classroom. On the other hand, I am--and always will be--a student of life. After all, I still have many lessons to learn. For instance, I have to learn to let my students work through their struggles. As a teacher, I must remember to keep the focus on the process of learning. Allowing students the opportunity to find acceptable solutions to problems is a wonderful way to build confidence.
As educators, we are often more austere with our students than necessary. One of my main goals, as a teacher, is to empower underserved individuals with the tools to use verbal and written communication to their best advantage. Since many people live without adequate resources, it is crucial to remind them of their many untapped strengths. Students must feel physically and mentally comfortable in the classroom.I believe they need to be encouraged--not criticized. I always take a few minutes at the beginning of each semester to introduce myself, my hobbies, and my various interests. By revealing information, I hope to appear more accessible to my students--the teacher needs to be seen as human. Then I ask each student to do the same. This allows them the opportunity to reveal their strengths. By mentioning our accomplishments, we are reminding ourselves of our power. I want my students to feel encouraged and enthusiastic about their lives and the work they do in our classroom. They need to remember past accomplishments and feel excited about future challenges.
In summary, I want my students to enjoy the time they spend in the classroom. They should feel free to express themselves without the fear of seeming foolish to their classmates. I always try to create an atmosphere of respect--where curiosity and innovative thinking is rewarded. Honoring students and treating them in a fair manner is essential to their future success.
My Educational Roots
St. Paul's Evangelical Lutheran Church in Ardmore, PA was founded in 1765 by my 7th great-grandfather and five other men. In 1787 the founding members built a school. The image to the left is of the former school, known today as the "Old Dutch Schoolhouse." As expected, the cemetery has expanded and a few headstones are visible in the background. Many of my ancestors--from the founder in 1798 to my great-grandmother in 1965--are buried at St. Paul's Cemetery.
Teaching in Korea
My students from Next Elite School in Seoul, S. Korea