Teaching Philosophy  


You are wondering what kind of teacher I am. Here stands what matters most: the student’s I’ve worked alongside: the records, receipts, the moments of self-discovery excavated and brought into the light of language. I believe what William Carlos Williams wrote: No ideas but in things.


When SB opened their self-portrait poem: It was a Wednesday sunset, / And I had the audacity to think I matter I remember our discussion on Safia Elhillo’s, “Portrait in a Yellow Dress,” and Yusef Komunyakkaa’s “My Father’s Love Letters”—two poems that approach the idea of portraiture differently, but demonstrate how poetry’s brevity can allow us to feel both beauty and grief simultaneously. By providing multiple examples of one idea, simple assignments lead to complex results.


In a series of short essays about home, love, and nature, JG writes: In front of me laid at least 20 deer and their families on the lawn. I continued to walk towards my dorm, non longer powerless by the creature. “Powerless,” I muttered to myself. Something about the word compelled me to tilt my head downwards in shame for the rest of the walk and I see the balance of imagery and vulnerability akin to our reading of Ross Gay’s Book of Delights. By bringing the word “powerless” into focus, we learn of a speaker fascinated, yet worried what dominion language holds over them. 


My classmates could never tell which of the three of us was the real me and there were times that, especially during my junior and senior years, neither could I. Listening to ME's journey from diagnosis to recovery and the anxiety that comes from raising one's hand through a curated Spotify playlist and short-written reflections taught me participation should mean many things. By grouping readings, discussion board posts, small and large group activities, and almost all other work done for the sake of the class as “participation points,” the classroom becomes an equitable space where silence is as equally valued as speech and students have a multitude of ways of being involved. 


I felt hollowed and violated, my sewer of airways burning, and I remember thinking ‘good’ Years later and I am still floored by JB’s graciousness in sharing such vulnerability. But what does it mean to ask students to share such vulnerability? To constantly consider the “risk” of losing points on a rubric versus the “risk” of missing moments of enlightenment? By using labor-based grading rubrics which ask not for benchmarks of comprehension, but, rather, time spent with their words, I find students take larger leaps into their lives—no longer burdened by the fear of academic oversight.


As it was for so many of these students, this is the beginning. Whether teaching first-year composition, creative writing, or community writing workshops, week after week I continue to see more clearly the shape of the facilitator my students deserve: one whose empathy outweighs their ego, whose course goals are not solely tied to letter grades, a facilitator who understands growth is only possible through mutual trust and respect. I hope that the work produced during our class reminds the students that they, too, are capable of creating the kind of insightful, genuine, and engaging work similar to that which we analyze. We learn together. I am the kind of teacher who gives credence to Audre Lorde’s lucid commitment to education: without community, there is no liberation. I put my faith in the students I work alongside. 

Classes Taught

  • First-Year Composition 

    • Fall 2019​

    • Spring 2020

    • Summer 2020 

  • Introduction to Poetry 

    • Fall 2020​

    • Spring 2021 (expected) 


Prospective Classes 

  • Contemporary Poetry 

  • Documentary Poetry

  • Poetics 

  • Poetry Workshop (Intermediate)

  • Poetry Workshop (Advanced) 

  • Poetry Workshop (Graduate) 

  • Digital Literature  

  • The Video Essay 

  • Introduction to Creative Writing 

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© 2020 by Josh Corson