Prior to becoming an assistant professor at The University of Georgia, I was exposed to a variety of classroom settings and worked with culturally diverse students at the State University of New York (SUNY), City University of New York (CUNY), Fordham University, and Manhattan College. My position as a Writing Fellow with Lehman College’s Writing Across the Curriculum Program convinced me that writing is essential for developing students’ critical thinking and learning skills. Teaching at two of the largest public systems in the United States, CUNY and SUNY, has been fundamental to my commitment to fostering diversity in the classroom to the implementation of a diverse curriculum that includes the cultural production of underrepresented communities, such as Latinxs, Spanish-speaking Caribbean, and Dominicans.
In my lower and upper-level Spanish, Latin American & Caribbean, and Latinxs studies classes I have implemented systematic reading and study guides, reflection questions for journal entries, and social media/podcasting assignments as tools to engage in meaningful critical analysis. These diverse tasks serve as a framework for class discussions and foster the habit of reading to write. According to students’ general performance, these practices have been very effective in Intro to Latin@American & Caribbean Studies (LAM 270), Culture of Latin American (SPA 372), and Survey of Latin American Literature (SPA 376).
In order to achieve my goal of generating thought-provoking and critical dialogues, I prompt students to use writing to explore cultural diversity in the classroom and in the global community. In addition, since research is an integral part of teaching, I have designed two upper-level seminars around my research expertise that have been approved as permanent courses in the Spanish major curriculum: Dominican Identity: Intersections between Popular Music, Literature & Film and Latinx/Latin American and Caribbean Theater and Performance. In addition, in spring 2018, I designed a course for the English Department at SUNY New Paltz titled, Being Latinxs in New York City. As these courses show, my teaching has been central to my commitment to diversifying the curriculum and to translating research into teaching practice.
Faculty-student collaborative research has been an important aspect of my teaching. While at SUNY New Paltz (August 2014-July 2018), I supervised various honor’s thesis and independent studies (please see section “service to students” in my vitae). Also, in spring 2016 and 2017, I assembled two research panels with students. The former, comprised of three students of color and myself, reflected on the need of having a diverse curriculum in higher education. The latter resulted from a year-long research project with four students and the directors of the Dominican Studies Institute where we discussed the need to recover women of color archives in academic spaces.
Finally, I must underline that students’ evaluations of instruction speak to my dedication as a teacher and also serve as a tool for continuous improvement. I have made it a very useful habit to read each individual comment and implement changes to my courses where needed. Given the positive feedback in various teaching techniques and levels of commitment to students, I will continue fostering the habit of writing as a learning process through low and high-stakes assignments, drafts, and peer-review as well as integrating research and diversification of curriculum in my courses.