As an instructor, I am guided by the mission of helping students develop a critical analysis of history and the social world through interrogating taken-for-granted beliefs and ideas. In particular, I seek to instill in students a sociological lens with which to understand the social construction of society. I do this, first, by helping students understand the ways in which social environments constrain individual choices, making some pathways in life more likely and others less likely. Second, I help students see how society is demarcated by social groups (by race, gender, class, sexuality, etc.), who possess the power to define boundaries for these groups, and the consequences of such categorizations for social and economic stratification.
My teaching is informed by my own experience as a first-generation college student, my previous teaching experiences with a variety of student populations (e.g. student parents, returning students, first-generation students, international students) and the knowledge that I have accumulated from my research on poverty, inequality, and education. I prioritize building an inclusive classroom for marginalized students, designing classroom activities that promote the application of sociological concepts, and developing assignments that cultivate students’ analytical skills.
While my primary goal is to instill in students a sociological perspective that enhances their ability to understand and navigate the social world, my ultimate aim is to provide students with a critical thinking mindset, which revolves around questioning why society is the way it is. When students stop taking things around them for granted or accepting things the ways they are, it will spur them to challenge societal norms that can lead to a more just and equitable society. In the process, it will expose advantaged students to their privilege and marginalized students to a different understanding of society that can be empowering.