Teaching, which is really inseparable from learning, is of its very nature a joyful experience. It is also false to consider seriousness and joy to be contradictory, as if joy were the enemy of methodological rigor. On the contrary, the more methodologically rigorous I become in my questionings and in my teaching practice, the more joyful and hopeful I become as well. Paulo Freire.
A few years ago, I lugged my computer in to have it upgraded. (I was still using a bulky PC… now, I use a svelte Mac laptop.) The technician working on the system called me to suggest that I have a zip drive installed, because, he said, "you have many, many documents on this machine." He was correct, I do have many, many documents on my computer (and in my filing cabinets and as many lost as I have changed institutions, homes, computers). The great majority of those documents pertain to teaching. Pedagogy. Those documents – assignment sheets, transcripts, papers written, email exchanges, website resource development, bibliographies – almost all share a common thread of being directly related to the theory of teaching I have developed over the past decade. Those documents are my teaching portfolio.
However much sense those documents make to me as a disorganized collection that I constantly find myself fishing through and reading through with delight, surprise, and occasional regret, I have culled from those documents what I take to be representative of my teaching in the most professional sense for this portfolio. What I hope emerges from this more contained portfolio is a coherent sense of what I value as a teacher and some representations of what I do when I enter a classroom, and to some extent, my students' and colleagues' contributions and responses to those activities.
Throughout this portfolio, I have included a range of materials that demonstrate what I experience in teaching. These materials include my formal descriptions of the courses I have taught. They also include student materials, transcripts of student groups working on something I have assigned them to do as well as my own interaction with a student working on an assignment. I have included examples of listserv and webboard discussions about curriculum and pedagogy, and examples of my own scholarly work on critiquing my own pedagogy.
The organization of this portfolio is designed to move from my general teaching strategies and collaboration into detailed sections on two pedagogical strategies I have worked with most extensively: technology and service learning. I have tried to highlight not only how I have utilized these strategies in specific sites, but how I have attempted to contribute to theorizing and developing those strategies through project development tied to theoretical concerns. I end this portfolio by including formal evaluations of my teaching and with an overview of my future goals in teaching. Many of the references in this portfolio indicate resources available online, as much of my teaching occurs accompanied by or in some cases exclusively in online settings.
I would like to take a moment and acknowledge some individuals who have significantly contributed to the joy I find in teaching: John Ramage as Composition Director my first year of teaching and mentor extraordinaire every day since; Michael Mendelsohn at Iowa State who reminded me that Iowa was cold but that my teaching had heart; Cathy Chaput, Kat McLellan, and MJ Braun for passionately talking with me about pedagogy and, more importantly, for embodying the politically committed teacher Freire describes when he says: "But I would like to emphasize that even the loving commitment to one's task does not dispense with the political struggle in favor of one's rights as a teacher, the dignity of one's profession, and the care due to students and to the teaching space that both teacher and student share."; Eric Switzer for teaching and learning with me always and always; Annie Bartlett for being a student, friend, collaborator, and for helping me see what I do from her perspective; Lydia Lester for being a student who, in her activism, continues to live what I hoped to teach and in doing so continues to teach me; Ken McAllister for challenging me to hope; all the community members and instructors who have been dazzling participants in my recent pedagogy project; Danielle Mitchell for listening to me, assuring me, and righting me when I am wrong, and always Curtis Ferree for listening, enacting, arguing, valuing, listening, enacting....