As a first-generation student myself, I remember how unmoored I felt throughout my entire undergraduate years—especially in comparison to my peers who somehow knew the importance of networking and visiting professors during their office hours. It was not until I entered my master’s program and worked closely with a knowledgeable female professor that I realized these habits that my friends and acquaintances performed are forms of cultural capital, “hacks” to the professional world that are often not taught to lower-income students because their parents and social circles function in a different sort of environment.
Because of this “ah-ha” moment in my master’s program, I am deeply committed to accessible learning in my classroom. Depending on the institutional culture and the composition of the student roster, my approach takes different forms, but my ultimate goal is to allow my students to feel confident in the formation of their ideas, to take ownership of those ideas, and to express them in class and on paper with excitement and self-assurance.
In the coming months, I will update my teaching blog Intelligēns with posts and reflections on facilitating an engaged classroom and my commitment to teaching first-generation and non-traditional learners. Please check Intelligēns for updates; I hope that we can learn something new together!