My Approach to Teaching and Learning
As a citizen of the Cherokee Nation and scholar of intercultural rhetorics, I strive to follow Cherokee traditional teachings of ᏚᏳᎪᏛ (duyuk’ta), which is a concept that means “to follow the right and balanced path between relationships.” These teachings help me reflect on ways to create balance between my research and my teaching, so that each informs the others. The practices I develop through this interconnected work become a means to understand the ways our different ways of knowing work in relation to create community-based knowledge. In the classroom, this means that I value a teacher-scholar model that is reflective, relational, and reciprocal.
No matter what I am teaching, whether it is professional writing, social media content strategies, contemporary theories in rhetoric and writing, or even graphic design, I make space in my classes to help students reflect on their expertise and cultural knowledges, learn from one another as a community of knowledge-makers, and share what they know through story — a deeply held Indigenous practice that connects both the speaker and listener together to sustain a community rather than creating separation and opposition. Doing so helps all of us find balance and pathways to navigate the inherent power-based relationships that may form between teachers and students. Together in the classroom, we are all active participants, learning from each other and celebrating the diverse and varied ways of learning.
My Teacher-Scholar Journey
As a teacher-scholar in Composition and Rhetoric with a focus on Indigenous rhetorics, I draw heavily on my research on decolonizing theories that seek to expose hierarchical structures within academic institutions as a means to inform my pedagogy. I find that when I apply this scholarship to classroom practices, the learning methods we engage with in the classroom fuel critical inclusivity and reflection in ways that encourage students to think and learn deeply and critically. Specifically, I have incorporated Indigenous theories of participatory knowledge-making through engaged and decentered writing practices in my undergraduate and graduate courses on intercultural rhetorics, rhetorical theories, professional writing, and digital rhetorics. To that extent, I encourage students to bring in their own cultural knowledge, experiences, and research interests into the classroom, and my students are provided ample space to lead class discussion and/or share their work in writing.
In addition to these practices, I have shaped my syllabi in every course to include space for student input on readings and topics, and the majority of the readings in both my undergrad and graduate courses feature underrepresented scholars of color and LGBTQ+ scholars. Through my pedagogical work, I strive to establish that learning is an active process, one that is contextualized through our own cultural backgrounds and transfers into lived experiences when confronted with different contexts, both inside and outside of the classroom.
Knowledge is Power
“As faculty, it is so invigorating to find that Miami students are reflective and active participants in their learning experiences, rather than just sitting back and passively consuming the materials I’ve provided. Together, we all strive to create a knowledge-making community in the classroom, where I find myself both teaching and constantly learning from students in ways that grow my own scholarship. We’ll chat and share ideas about books we’ve read, experiences we’ve had, and research we’re interested in, which really tears down that distance that can happen between professor and student in more top-down models of education. By challenging ourselves to become better teacher-scholars, we all can create spaces where community knowledge can happen and inclusive teaching begins. I love the learning atmosphere at Miami. I walk out happy and invigorated each day, and hope my students experience the same.”
Ph.D. Purdue University
M.A. Purdue University
B.A University of Oklahoma
More About Me
I am a Cherokee Nation citizen and an Assistant Professor of Composition and Rhetoric. My research centers Indigenous methodologies of storytelling as a decolonial and materialist research practice in writing and rhetoric, and I bring these methodologies to both my historiographic recovery work and classroom pedagogies. My book, “Stories of our Living Ephemera: Storytelling Methodologies in the Archives of the Cherokee National Seminaries, 1846-1907” is forthcoming in September 2023.