ENGLISH COMPOSITION AND LITERATURE
Graduate Teaching Assistant, University of Louisville, 2007-2012
1. Business Writing (Engl 306), 2008 - 2011, 4 sections (computer lab)
Designed for upper division undergraduate students anticipating careers in law, business, or government, this course covered principles and practices of workplace communication.
"I have worked in groups before obviously but they have never been this organized and efficient. By learning how to use a project manager, create a team charter and task schedule, float meeting agenda and track minutes and progress notes, I now have a solid foundation for future group projects. I’m sure that I will have to work in groups like this for the rest of my life, and I will try to implement these tools to keep team members on the same page as well as responsible and efficient. I also liked how we used wiki and the guidelines that were set up for us in the beginning."
"You showed us the importance of cultural differences that can occur in business communication. Especially our class discussions and videos on cultural awareness were paramount to the increasingly globalized marketplace.... I appreciate the hard work and dedication that you have for your students. The joy that you have toward teaching is obvious, and I want to thank you for helping to make this class productive and fun during a summer semester.”
"The main thing I took away from this class was something you said to me the first time I met you during our conference. You said that you were going to learn from us (the students) during the semester. Most professors are 'always right' no matter what, and the student cannot correct the professor. You took a different approach, and I now have a better appreciation for teachers like you."
(end-of-course reflections by students from diferent sections of the course)
I first developed and taught this course in summer 2008. While teaching three more sections of it since then, I have pursued my commitment to reflective teaching practice by improving it through the use of student feedback, observation and advice from faculty and teaching experts, and my own reflection and reading of relevant literature on effective teaching. I have also developed the course in order to integrate information and communication technologies that are used in the workplace today so that my students are better prepared for their professional careers. In particular, I have trained students on how to use new technologies for collaborating on and managing projects in the workplace.
Using Web 2.0 applications available in the Blackboard learning management system, students learned how to collaboratively research, write, and present ideas through various genres and modes of business communication. Working in small groups of three or four, and implementing project management strategies outlined by Joanna Wolfe in her book Team Writing (2009), students collaboratively wrote business proposals based on which they then developed multimedia-integrated marketing pitches to present in class at the end of the semester.
Collaborative Assignment using Wiki Groups and Project Management
Description: This is the final and largest assignment of the course. For this project, students collaboratively write a business proposal and then develop and present a marketing pitch based on the business proposal. I call this assignment a 3-D project because it involves three complementary dimensions. First, students learn the fundamentals of project management from Joanna Wolfe’s book Team Writing while also learning basic principles of business communication from Kitty Locker and Stephen Kaczmarek’s textbook Business Communication: Building Critical Skills. Second, they form groups of three or four, and once they discuss and understand the assignment, they create their own team charter, project schedule, and project documentation mechanisms. Finally, the groups set up workspace within wiki groups and assign specific tasks to their members, each of whom is responsible to complete a distinctive task. Students get credit for contributing to one another's wiki pages within the groups.
Reflection: Considering how challenging group-based writing assignments can be for both students and teachers, this is perhaps the most successful assignment that I that I give to my students. The assignment has been effective every time I taught this course at the University of Louisville. I believe that the success of this argument comes from factors such as this: the opportunity to first learn the concepts and skills of project management alleviates students’ anxiety, knowing how to allocate work systematically boosts their confidence for working together, and the abilitity to conveniently share and access work within groups requires each member to be responsible. Moreover, developing their own team charter and task schedule as well as assigning work that each member can do best greatly motivates students to take responsibility. Wiki groups allow me as the instructor to keep track of students’ progress, including that of individual students who may be lagging behind or not cooperating with the group (which students tend not to report to the teacher). Finally, working together as groups over the course of a semester on what most students see as competitive projects that culminate into presenting before the class at the end of semester allows students to develop rapport and a sense of common purpose.
Based on this course, I presented a multimodal poster at the 2009 Conference on College Composition and Communication in Louisville in which one of the groups of students from the previous semester joined me. In 2010, I also developed and presented a workshop for the "Dine and Discover" faculty development series sponsored by the University of Louisville Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning. In 2011, I developed a teaching portfolio based on this course when I applied for the Barbara Plattus Award for Excellence in Graduate Student Teaching (2011) at the English Department, and won the award. My Spring 2011 class participated in the Idea to Action festival organized by the Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning. Student projects from this class were featured on the program's website.
One of the key features of this course that I must not forget to highlight here is its emphasis on communicating across cultures. For instance, after letting students watch videos of business executives from different world cultures seriously miscommunicating with each other, I ask them to research how different cultures around the world conduct business, what roles personal connection, time, space, and so on play while business people and their customers deal with one another. By studying “foreign” communicative cultures early on the in the semester, students become aware of more subtle but nonetheless quite important differences that affect business communication even within the United States.
2. Advanced Writing (Engl 105), Fall 2010
“The multimodal project was a blast! I really learned a lot from it, and it was such a fun project to make. I enjoyed being able to have free reign and be creative with it. I think that by allowing us to use all types of media to make our project really helped in letting us make the best project we could. I learned new skills on making/editing videos that will be very helpful in the future, and I learned how to make a Prezi (which I will be using from now on)!”
“Another related thing I am taking away is less unipolar and more diversified, global perspective. I feel like I am more open to the world. I came into the class with a bit of a closed mind... and didn't really consider anything outside of the US as important.... This course opened my eyes to the fact that there are many more things out there than just us. We as a country know we are not perfect but we like to act like it and you helped open my view of the world up and expose it as wrong.”
“I really liked your attitude towards the class. You treated us like equals. I felt very comfortable approaching you about anything.... I found that I went out of my way to make sure I did not miss this class more so than any other class I have taken.... I thought you clearly described what we needed to do to get a good grade in this class. Everything you had us do, had a purpose that was well defined and logical. You are one of the best English teachers I've ever had [in terms of] showing how to use technology.”
This course was designed to allow students to read, discuss, research, and respond to issues of globalization, applying critical thinking and academic writing skills in those processes.
I taught students the skills to read, respond to, and rhetorically analyze texts that express different perspectives on issues of global significance, identifying the texts’ underlying cultural and/or philosophical value systems. I also trained students to present their ideas in multiple modes and mediums of expression. Thus, critical thinking served the means, multimodality was the medium, and the intellectual practice of global citizenship through academic reading and writing was the key learning objective of the course.
In consultation with experts from the University of Louisville’s Delphi Center for Teaching and Learning and the Digital Media Suite, I incorporated critical thinking skills further integrating them with new media skills in this course.
So, while reading a collection of recent news reports and commentaries on contemporary issues of globalization, students discussed how local socio-political forces interact with the global, deliberately trying to think outside the boxes of socially acquired perspectives on both global and local issues. The class identified the primary goal of university education as expanding one’s intellectual horizons through rethinking conventional worldviews and allowing new realities shape one’s social and professional lives. Based on the readings and class discussions on issues ranging from cultural perceptions beauty and social construction of identity, students developed multimodal presentations in small groups which read and implemented the ideas of project management from Joanna Wolfe’s book Team Writing.
Critical Thinking, Multimedia, and Global Citizenship
This course had three interrelated components: a critical thinking framework, focused reading on issues of diversity and globalization, and multimodal project. These components were emphasized in the reading, class discussions, and journal entries and other smaller assignments that led to the larger final project as students gradually developed (in groups of 3 or 4) a research topic and then a multimodal project. While working on smaller assignments early on the semester, I let students work with different members of class until they find common interests towards forming groups for the final project; during this stage, I also let the class read about and practice a few project management skills. Once the groups are formed, they assign task areas to individual members, make rules of collaboration explicit by completing/customizing team charter templates that I provide, and learn how to use wiki for creating and storing project materials. Groups choose their own topics for their final projects, making sure they sufficiently draw on the readings and class discussions and are on subjects like diversity, multiculturalism, globalization or global perspectives on more local issues, and intercultural conflict and understanding.
Reflection: I do not appreciate the tendency to essentialize cultural identity in any way, so I make sure to not present myself as the cosmopolitan who knows it all about “global” perspectives on anything; in fact, part of my pedagogical objective is to challenge students to step outside their acquired assumptions/beliefs and comfy opinions about themselves and the world. So, I spend time to help students research for possible topics, complicate conventional ideas about the topic, look at them from multiple perspectives, and integrate critical thinking and mediatize the projects. For example, after being “shocked” by readings on how different societies and cultures perceive and define apparently very simple and universal ideas in different ways, a group of three female students researched how female “beauty” was conceptualized in different cultures around the world. Using wiki, they collaboratively wrote a paper; worked together to produce a video by interviewing people who seemed to be from different cultures whom they met on campus; based on a web research, created a slide that consisted of “shockingly” different images of beautiful women from around the world; and further mediatized the research paper into a slide that integrated still images, audio, and video (including original material from field work). In the process of developing the projects as groups and also in response to their final presentations, students challenge one another by using the “fundamental and powerful concept” of considering anything from multiple perspectives. Students were a little surprised when I constantly asked them to not try to find more evidence to support the argument that they already had but instead to try to find resources and reasons to challenge or complicate their current beliefs and arguments; but the comments that students left at the end of the semester clearly indicated that all students liked the idea of looking at something from multiple cultural, political, and philosophical perspectives in order to become better citizens of a world that is making people and societies increasingly interconnected and interdependent.
3. British Literature II, Summer 2010
“I like how you made this 'our' class and listened to what the students had to say this really created a good environment for the class. I also loved that you were able to bring in your personal experiences from different cultures to the class, while this took up some time it was interesting and it made me see how British Literature can still relate to the world today.”
“…allowing the class to be organic, slightly democratic, and flexible was truly advantageous to the learning environment. Too often teachers rigidly stick to syllabi that are either too slow or too fast. This flexibility also prevented any authoritarian (teacher) v. subject (student) sentiments from evolving.... Another critical element I enjoyed was a more general observation about the structure of the class. It elevated literary theory. It exposed us to canonical texts as well as those that were not canonical.”
“I am very glad to have read Wollstonecraft and the other women writers and to read about their struggles for freedom of all women.... I especially learned more about 'close reading' of texts and how to look at a poem or story from several viewpoints--cultural, historical-biographical, formalist, post-colonial, etc. I can use this experience and the handouts for the fall, when I have another class on writing about literature.”
This undergraduate survey of British literature of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was designed to help students learn to critically read and appreciate literary works with an understanding of the material, social, and cultural conditions of the times when the works were produced. The course included poetry and prose from the British Romantic, Victorian, and Modern periods. I focused on intensive reading of relatively shorter texts, based on which students shared ideas by posting daily blog entries and comments as well as in classroom discussions. To supplement the course with literary criticism and theory, I included essays and articles on Formalist (including New Critical), Feminist, New Historicist, Reader Response, and other theories.
Thus, the critical framework for reading and discussions, as well as for writing term papers and exams, was developed out of three major sources: the introduction to the periods and to the writers, relevant theoretical readings, and the evolving discussion of interpretive ideas in class and online.
Student participated with great enthusiasm, and by the end of the course, they were efficient in describing, in the context of British literature of the last two centuries, the relationship between literary texts and relevant historical events and social conditions that shaped or influenced the texts; they could easily identify the basic principles of form, style, and content that serve as a basis of literary criticism, as well as read literary texts with a sense of appreciation of those elements; they could apply basic critical and theoretical terms in discussing and writing about literary texts, following the conventions of academic writing at the college level; and they were also able to demonstrate an informed view about the relevance of literature of the past to our own society today.
Reading Response in Private Journals Followed by Group Blogging
Description: I gave 20% of credit to students for thoughtful responses on the reading material, which they posted on individual blogs set as “private” (called “journal” in Blackboard). Students earned another 20% of credit for writing a more substantive reflection of the reading(s) of their choice at the end of the week (that is, after five days of class, since this was a summer course). By requiring students to post the daily responses a few hours prior to class time, I used selected responses as prompts for class discussion. Students generally responded quite readily to the shared responses, but to ensure that everyone participated in the discussion, I also used “round robin” discussion or the class-approved strategy of “putting you on the spot” by asking “[Joe], can you tell us what you wrote today?” Distinct from the daily responses, weekly reflections were posted as entries on a shared/class blog. Students got half the credit for their response in which they were supposed to critique or analyze a text of their choice; they got the other half of the credit for responding to at least two other peers’ weekly reflections. [60% of the credit was distributed to four major assignment papers.]
Reflection: I found this assignment effective for many reasons. While being low stake, the private daily journals not only required students to read the texts but also allow them to share reactions without hesitation.By selecting the more thoughtful responses for class discussion, I encouaraged students to read and write as carefully as they could. Using students’ own ideas was a more effective strategy to prompt class discussion than asking questions, for instance. The credit points that I gave students on a regular basis told them how they were doing in the course. Assessing students’ work in small steps gave me ample opportunities to adjust the pace and direction of the course. The anonymity of the short, daily responses seemed to encourage the class to critique as well as appreciate each other’s responses more substantively. Students wrote increasingly thoughtful responses as the semester progressed because they saw the value of their ideas for the class and subsequent weekly posts. The daily posts allowed me—with prior consent of the class—to put students “on the spot” by asking them to talk about “what you wrote today.” Students gradually developed ideas for their major assignment papers out of the knowledge base of daily and weekly posts and the conversation that continued beyond class discussion. All in all, while some students commented on this assignment as “one thing in the course that initially looked like a lot of busy work,” all students eventually liked this integration of journaling/blogging into reading and discussion.
4. Intermediate College Composition, Spring 2008
“This was my second straight semester with Sharma as my professor for English. I learned a lot through both his courses and will use much of the material in future classes. If I had to choose one thing in particular that I learned it would have to be citations. I had heard of the different styles of citing, but was never introduced to them prior to this class.... I feel like Sharma introduced it to me very well.”
“I really like the [specific] techniques you taught us to creating a research paper. Starting from the research, careful reading and annotation, down the outline of my paper, to using other people’s ideas with a clear sense of their key argument, rather than anything that I want to pick and choose, to the citations and the works cited. I like how each day we would take on a new subject, like one week we worked on paraphrasing, the next on citing sources, and the next on the works cited section and so on.... I want to thank you Mr. Sharma and the class as a whole, for the progression of my skills in this class.”
“The best thing about this class that interested me was the way that the material was taught. When Mr. Sharma would give us the assignment and actually go through it with the class the next day actually encouraged me to complete my assignments and do my best on them.”
This course was designed to help students learn, with close attention and step by step, the fundamentals of research-based academic papers. Using Brenda Spatt’s textbook, Writing from Sources,
I let students read critically, annotate texts, find ways to respond to readings while representing the authors’ arguments in their full and logical contexts, and gradually learn to draw on and synthesize multiple sources into the students’ own framework of ideas.
By breaking down the process of research-based writing and deliberately withholding “gut response” and “selective citation” in order to support their own arguments, students were able to not only master research skills faster and better, they were also able to “join the conversation” with the authors in more informed and confident ways.
As outlined in the course objectives, this course helped students gain a significant amount of critical reading skills; practice how to find, understand, incorporate, and document external sources while producing interesting writing; learn the metalanguage of critical thinking such as abstracting, synthesizing, representing, incorporating, and developing complex structures for ideas; and understand and practice fundamental concepts and skills of composition including invention, revision, organization, editing, and proofreading.
Fundamentals of Academic Research
The seminal assignment of this course would be the two-part assignment that asked students: 1) to read and annotate an academic article and then summarize its main idea in a sentence or two, and 2) forward, critique, or complicate the argument of the source article by first integrating its summary into a paragraph of their own, after which they were free to also use specific quotations or paraphrases of specific points in the source in order to further elaborate their own idea/argument. The purpose of this assignment was to help students realize—through an almost painfully slowed down process of using someone else’s idea—that intellectually honest and authentic use of sources in academic writing means avoiding to pick and choose whatever central or incidental point fits one’s own argument best.
Reflection: Some students were at first a bit puzzled when I started breaking and slowing down the process of mere reading an academic text and citing ideas from it by engaging them in specific exercises and assignments on summarizing, paraphrasing, quoting, documenting sources, and so on. But they quickly understood why it was necessary to pay serious attention to the overall meaning and purpose of a text. I told students, “if you cannot sum up the whole source in a sentence or to, you are not yet qualified to borrow a sentence or two from it.” As one student told me jokingly towards the end of the semester, he and probably many others left this class feeling that they were still learning how to read. And reading and representing other people’s ideas well is the basis of good academic writing and scholarship.
5. Introduction to College Composition,
“English class this year was very exciting. In the past, English was not one of my favorite classes. I pretty much dreaded going to English class in high school. . . . One of the most useful things that i have learned in this class is to actually look at the assignment prompt and keep it in mind while writing. Before i simply glanced over it and wrote on my own. But if you review it though roughly you will have a better idea on what to write about.”
“The activities that we did in class made my papers effective. For example, peer feedback was something that I did not think that I would like at all, but I did. I also liked reviewing the rough drafts of my classmates. . . . So English 101 was by far my favorite class my first semester in college. I hope the next semester is just as great.”
“Overall I liked the class and it was kept pretty interesting through the semester. The teacher provided a really good atmosphere to the class and helped make the class a real success for all of the students.”
This course was designed with the basic idea of academic writing as first of all “joining the conversation.” Class discussions frequently focused on strategies, terms and concepts of composition; I used the tagline of “conscious writer” in order to emphasize the need to understand that there are explicit and implicit conventions of writing and other academic work in any discipline. Students practiced careful reading and listening, critical thinking and analysis, and careful acknowledgement of other people’s ideas when borrowing and using them.
As an introductory course in college composition, the course gave students ample opportunities to practice invention, organization, drafting, revision, editing, and proofreading;
Joining the Academic Conversation:
they practiced how to produce readable and interesting finished products that reflect appropriate academic textual conventions of presentation; they discussed and shared their writing with one another in order to develop a rhetorical vocabulary for talking about writing; and they learned about and implemented critical thinking processes, such as abstracting, synthesizing, representing, incorporating, and developing complex structures for ideas.
This assignment sought to help students transition from modes of writing like personal narratives and descriptions and expositions of things or ideas into reflective and critical response. It asked students to think, read, discuss, and eventually write about an event, object, or experience from their current life or society with the purpose of exploring more general implications of it. For example, a student who had recently got a speeding ticket and, in his view, had been put through too much bureaucratic hassle and police harassment wrote a paper that helped him explore the social issues surrounding that personal experience.
Reflection: The student who wrote about speeding ticket, police treatment, and experience at the courthouse had been talking about a problem about which he did not know that there was scholarly discourse, research data, and practically useful information. Taking up “common” problems and researching (or “listening” as I called) for information in the academic and professional domains helped students in this class to look at academic writing as a more meaningful practice than just completing “assignments.” Because I challenged them to “listen” to others who have had the experienced or learned about the subject before and while sharing their own idea, students understood what it means to “join the conversation” in the academic and professional sense of the ter. Students read from Joseph Harris’ book Rewriting in order to discuss the subject of joining the conversation.
ENGLISH LITERATURE, LINGUISTICS, AND LITERARY THEORY
Lecturer, Tribhuvan University (TU), Kathmandu, Nepal, 2000-2006
A. Central Department of English, TU, August 2001-May 2006 (part time lecturer*)
1. Survey of British and American Poetry (graduate course)
This survey of mainly British and some American poetry covered a broad range of poetry, from Beowulf to Cynthia Zarin’s “Song” (1993). I taught different periods over the course of five years, teaching some periods multiple times and repeating some (like British Romantic poetry) several times. Poetry can be exceptionally difficult for English as a foreign language students, and part of being an effective teacher involves infusing the confidence in students to read and analyze poetic texts about whose social and cultural contexts they know nothing.
"Shyam taught me poetry almost ten years ago, when I was literature rookie at Tribhuvan University. Not having come into the classroom with much background, there was much for me to learn and Shyam was just the teacher I needed. Young, smart, insightful, eager to teach, open to suggestions, he dealt with poetry without some of the melodrama (pardon the word) that can go into teaching the genre. Though Shyam did not teach me critical theory, he was teaching theory at another class, and often brought his knowledge into our classroom, which made for very exciting classes that focused on the meaning, the craft, and the social context within which any poetry is composed and read. I had decided by then that I would have a career in writing and I studied literature for the craft that goes into its making, as well as for pleasure. Shyam's classes were therefore helpful to me as a young student of literature and as an aspiring writer. I learnt that a work of literature could be looked at through many lenses, that what seemed apolitical might be seeped in politics, what comes off as a romance could also be a biting satire. At a time when I needed to understand how to read a work of literature, Shyam showed me that there are indeed many tools to tackling a work of art, and that these tools can be immensely pleasurable. He definitely formed the way I looked at, analyzed, or wrote about poetry in particular, even traditional ones, and I have carried these insights with me all these years as a student and a writer."
Smriti Ravindra, Fulbright Scholar and instructor at Temple University, and author of the novel A Bad Boy's Guide to a Good Indian Girl
2. Linguistics and Stylistics (graduate course)
This course consisted of fundamentals of linguistics—phonetics and phonology, morphology and lexicon, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, discourse analysis, and sociolinguistics—which were the first half of each section, the second of which were applications of those linguistics concepts to literary analysis. A range of additional readings on the history, theories, and debates in linguistics also supplemented students’ understanding of complex linguistic issues that could influence stylistic applications.
3. Literary Criticism and Theory (graduate course)
This course, also called “Foundations of Literary Criticism and Theory,” consisted mainly of readings from Hazard Adam’s comprehensive collection Critical Theory Since Plato. The course, as designed by the university, was highly challenging to students due to the sheer amount and complexity of content. I helped students tackle that challenge by not just teaching the content but also skills for reading, analyzing and writing about the texts.
4. Intellectual History (graduate course)
Intellectual History, or more precisely the intellectual history of the Western world, was a course that included readings on the development of the most influential philosophies, scientific advancements, and political thoughts in the West. I covered modern and postmodern periods.
B. Campion College (TU affiliate), March 2001-July 2006 (part-time lecturer)
1. Foundation of English Studies (lower division course)
The foundation of English Studies, also called Introduction to English literature, was a unique course that consisted of three types of readings: a collection of critical, literary, philosophical, and scientific essays that gave students the sense that English studies was no longer limited to "literature"; a collection of ancient myths that are commonly used as allusions in Western literature; and a manual for critical analysis of literary texts. Teaching this course to freshmen in a private college with students largely from affluent families of the capital city was challenging; but I took the challenge as an opportunity and developed ways to make learning foreign literature and intellectual concepts relevant and interesting.
"Mr. Ghanashyam Sharma taught me as a BA student in Campion College, Kathmandu (2003 - 2005), but I remain in touch with him to this day because he was a great teacher and remains a mentor and source of inspiration for me.
"Because the Nepalese education system lacks practice-based curriculum, having a teacher like Mr. Sharma was fortunate. Especially in the humanities where most teachers just give lectures out of the textbooks, his teaching stood out because he made the class student-friendly, he engaged us actively, and he was passionate about the subject matter. Above all, he cared for students.
"Campion College is one of the best colleges in Kathmandu, but the students are generally from the city's social and economic upper classes as well as upper culture and caste. So, for students like me who were in the minority for various reasons, Mr. Sharma was particularly inspiring because he had very modern views of society and culture, and he wore those views both in his heart and on his sleeves, though he technically belonged to the mainstream. Mr. Sharma has been a great teacher for me."
--Poonam Pariyar Rasaili, Coordinator of Child Watabaran Center, Nepal
2. Survey of Poetry (upper division course)
This was a survey of British and American poetry, following elements of poetry: modes of poetic expression, rhetorical figures, and figures of sound. This was a course in the third year, so students were much more focused and motivated because by this time most of them looked forward to the professional world or further studies, often abroad. And yet, students were afraid of poetry, and that too from distant times and places. I happened to be someone who enjoyed English poetry since my days in a "mission school" in India, so my challenge was to carefully translate my own enjoyment of English poetry, both demonstrating and convincing students that they too can understand and enjoy it. One of the teaching strategies that I adopted in courses like this is to start simple. For example, when teaching John Keats' "Ode on a Grecian Urn," I used to draw the image of an urn on the board, along with a young man who seemed to be pondering the meanings of the patterns on the urn. This made the abstract and foreign socio-cultural context look like what happens when students encounter artistic object themselves. Often, I used real objects, an approach that most literature teachers would consier too silly for this level. I also used my experience of reciting poetry in order to bring out the tone and voice in the poems.
3. Critical and Creative Thinking (upper division course)
Critical and Creative Thinking is a unique course in TU's undergraduate English major curriculum. The "critical" section included readings on basic concepts of classical logic and
more modern frameworks of critical thinking; the "creative" portion of the course contained problem-solving as well as conceptual reading based on art and literature. Teaching this course posed a different kind of challenge: students read about critical and creative thinking primarily for the sake of taking exams. So, in order to be efficient and cover the course within the available time, the teacher may need to curb his or her urge to involve students in practical activities! I learned while teaching this course that that such a situation doesn't have to be a double bind: when I departed from the regular course of giving lectures and involved students in critical or creative problem-solving exercises, students more motivated and more able to understand the subject matter. This course reminded me of the Chinese saying: Tell me and I will forget, show me and I may remember, but involve me and I will learn.
4. Business English (lower division courses for Bachelor of Business Administration students)
The Bachelor of Business Administrator program was new at Campion as well as in the parent university at the time. This required course, also called English for Business and Economics, included principles of business communication, practice in genres of business writing, readings on related subjects ranging from economics and financial markets to international business, and English grammar and composition sections. I taught this course when the BBA program was first established in the university, but was able to draw on the content knowledge from my own dual majors in English and Economics, my technological savvy that teaching in this program demanded, and extensive prior experiences in teaching English. I optimally used the computer lab--which had a full range of hardward and software as well as technical support--when academic technology was still a rare phenomenon in the country. The experience of teaching a series of Business Writing for several years in this college formed the basis of my interest and expertise in teaching with technology, as well as teaching business and professional writing.
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TEACHING IN GRADE SCHOOLS
A. GEMS (High School English Teacher), Lalitpur, Kathmandu, 1998-2000
I taught at GEMS (popular acronym for "Graded English Medium School"), one of Kathmandu's best private schools, while studying my master's degree in Tribhuvan University. Teaching at GEMS provided me not only continue to hone my teaching and mentoring skills as a high school teacher, it also gave me tremendously added new opportunities and resources with which to support students grow intellectually, socially, and in various other ways. GEMS had a wide range of resources for academic and co-curricular development of students, and it also had some of the best teachers/experts and therefore students in secondary school level sports, art, music, and activities of various types. I actively contributed to both the academic and co-curricular activities, including taking students from the drama club to contests on the national level. Upon graduating from Tribhuvan University as the gold medalist of the MA batch of 1997-99, I decided to leave GEMS in 2000 and moved on to higher education, which was my long term albeit conflicting goal vis-a-vis teaching in high school. But the passion for teaching which, in all honesty, GEMS instilled in my then 5th-6th years of teaching career has remained to this day, more than a decade after leaving this wonderful school which in Kathmandu.
"Mr. Sharma taught me in high school and although it has been over a decade, I still remember his English Literature class as one of the most interesting ones I have ever had. Mr. Sharma was very zealous as a teacher - a personality full of youth and energy, working hard to get his students to appreciate the beautiful nature of English Literature and the subtleties and intricacies in the texts. Mr. Sharma was the first to teach us how to "read between the lines" and one of the few teachers who deemed reading beyond the course material is important for any student's all round development. His influence led me to explore the various genres and writers of English Literature and helped develop a keen interest in reading and writing. This, I think, was a great personal accomplishment for an otherwise generally science-inclined guy like me. I still find time to read and write despite a rather busy graduate student life in Engineering and Mr. Sharma clearly deserves the credit for having instilled that habit in me. Had it not been his classes or the personal meetings with him where he would edit my scribblings and encourage me to write more, I doubt I'd be able to write a coherent paragraph like this today."
PhD Student and Research Assistant,
Computer Engineering and Electrical Sciences
School of Engineering,
Providence, RI, USA
B. New Pinewood School (Elementary School English Teacher), Butwal, Nepal, 1994-97
I started my teaching career at New Pinewood, a small private school in Butwal, during my undergraduate years. After teaching at the elementary level for some time, I taught in the middle school section. At Pinewood, I was involved in every aspect of the lives of students because in that little town in western Nepal, the culture did not make much spatial or temporal distinction between public and private, personal and professional domains of life and profession. I remember experiences ranging from litho-printing questions for final examinations overnight at the old school building, to being a music coach for students competing at a district level music competition, to substituting math and science teachers--and being asked by third-graders to continue teaching them math.