Teaching

What I teach: 

I teach the long history of Chinese art from antiquity to the present. My area of focus is ink painting in the twentieth century, with a particular interest in how artists and art historians transformed Chinese tradition into “Chinese Modern Art” from WWII to the 1960s. 

I have worked as a grader and teaching assistant for semester-long lower- and upper-division courses in art history and visual studies (Introduction to Visual Studies, Chinese Art, Pilgrimage & Tourism, Modern Architecture). For introductory survey courses, I was responsible for weekly discussion sections of approximately twenty students. Seminars with upperclassmen had around five students. I have organized courses around various formats: online, lectures, discussion, and practicum.

How my students learn:

My teaching priorities are:

  1. Fundamentals of humanistic analysis (with a particular focus on images and physical sites)
  2. Interpretive research skills and methods
  3. Critical thinking practices
  4. Clear communication
  5. Creative and intellectual self-respect

Writing is Thinking

Students write in my courses. I favor short writing assignments with opportunities for students to receive feedback well before the end of the semester. Students will spend time with texts and command the ideas of the texts in their own writing. They will learn to formulate their arguments with primary sources and trust their own analytical capabilities before turning to secondary sources. 

Examples of written assignments in my courses: Reading responses focusing on conceptual synthesis (not summary or comprehension), annotated bibliographies, and thick descriptions.

Students will learn to take themselves seriously as writers. We will read about writing. We will read out loud in class. We will edit our own writing. There will be time for exploration, experimentation, and reflection of students’ own writing practices.

Drawing and Seeing

Students draw and pay attention to what they are seeing in my courses. Visits to collections or archives include time for quiet, contemplative looking and mark-making. The purpose is to cultivate the state of mind, awareness, and gentle focus involved in the acts of looking and drawing. The drawing is a byproduct, not the reward or the goal. 

On feedback and teaching:

I find the experience of being observed while teaching and observing other instructors teaching foundational to excellence. The growth mindset I bring to my work with students comes from a place of personal commitment to improvement. I was fortunate to participate in a Teaching Triangles program while I served as a teaching assistant at Duke, during which I was observed by two peers and had the opportunity to attend the classes of two peers.

When I was being observed/receiving feedback, aspects of my classroom that I hadn’t noticed were brought to my attention: students’ expressions and body language while I was asking questions, how the class was paced, and how often I checked in with students to gauge understanding or invite questions. 

When I observed other instructors, it also became an opportunity for me to reflect on my behaviors as an instructor. Observing other instructors made me more aware of what elements of the experience are in the control of the instructor and which were not. For instance, I noticed that the condition/layout of the physical classroom had a greater impact on the experience of students than I expected before and instructors that were more intentional about shaping the space to suit the needs of the lesson were more effective.

After completing Teaching Triangles, I will continue to be more aware of which students tend to dominate seminar discussion and continue drawing from the rapport I develop with my students to call on them directly, especially the quieter students. I received very helpful feedback about my overall positive behaviors (humor, encouragement, clarity, and consistency with grading). I found the process of doing Teaching Triangles very affirming, and allowed me to feel more at ease in my role as a teacher.