I believe in the power of rhetoric.
I believe that a complicated understanding and sophisticated application of rhetorical principles, including attention to audience, purpose, context and more, are necessary for successful communication, personally and professionally. And I believe that successful communication is the means by which students can express themselves, forward important ideas and help others solve tasks.
I also believe in the power of technology in communication. The use of digital technology, both as an instructor and as a learner, is increasingly not an option. Instructors and students require fluency in multi-modal communication, including visual rhetoric, to experience the importance and usefulness of effective communication.
I like to think of my classrooms as a laboratory.
As an instructor, it is imperative that I help students understand the rhetorical basis upon which effective communication is built. My students will experience a wide variety of instructional methods, including lectures, workshops, presentations, tutorials, group work and more. Sometimes students are presented with new knowledge and then allowed to experiment with it. Other times students generate new knowledge by applying classroom imperatives to their own experiences. To that end, I try to create a community of learners (including myself), where we all feel safe to express ourselves and expose our communication weaknesses.
But real growth is usually the product of challenge, not safety. Rigor in evaluations and course expectations is important, but not as important, I don’t think, as challenging students to move beyond what is safe, beyond what they know. My job is to give my students the tools to make great rhetorical decisions, point them in a certain direction and then to let them take the work in directions that students haven’t before. I challenge them to take me into the future of communication and technology. This is student (and teacher) empowerment.