In 2009, I left my full-time job in marketing to take on a new role as a graduate student in Indiana University’s Department of Sociology, because there was one thing I was absolutely sure of: I wanted to teach.
When I applied to graduate schools, I knew that IU’s Department of Sociology was noted for its superb training in both teaching and research. When it came time to choose which graduate program to attend, knowing that I would have the support and resources to become a great teacher and scholar at Indiana University made my decision an easy one. This was the program for me.
As a graduate student at Indiana University, I independently taught Introduction to Sociology and Statistics for Sociology. My students know me as the instructor who actively blurs lines between textbook material and popular media. For example, I asked my Introduction to Sociology students to bring the Indiana Daily Student to class and my Statistics for Sociology students to relate statistical concepts to funny internet memes. My use of popular media in the classroom helps me achieve one of my pedagogical goals: to extend my students’ understanding of sociology beyond the classroom and into the everyday world.
My growth as a teacher reflects the amazing training and support available to graduate students in the Department of Sociology. Specifically, the department houses the nationally recognized, multi-faceted Preparing Future Faculty (PFF) program.
As a graduate student, I took part in all aspects of the PFF program. First, I completed the PFF Certificate in College Pedagogy by completing a three-course sequence focused on pedagogy, issues in higher education, and the scholarship of teaching and learning. Second, I shadowed a professor at a local liberal arts college and learned more about what life is like as a faculty member at this type of institution through the PFF Shadowing Fellowship. Lastly, I completed my term as the PFF Fellow, during which time I co-taught the graduate level course required for new Sociology graduate student instructors, The Teaching of Undergraduate Sociology, and also led a committee that organized the campus-wide 20th Annual Preparing Future Faculty Conference.
As I wind up my graduate studies and prepare to begin my career as a professor, I am confident of two things. First, that the training and experiences I gained as an IU sociology graduate student will easily translate into my next venture. And second, that for the remainder of my career, I will always feel grateful to the PFF co-directors, professors Brian Powell, Bernice Pescosolido, and Jennifer Lee, for giving me such a solid foundation upon which to build a career as a teacher.