Note: This document will be revised regularly. This is posted as of July 2019.
Credit to June Ahn (via Sarita Yardi Schoenebeck), whose statement I admire and borrowed from extensively, if not in very large chunks.
I welcome students from a wide range of backgrounds to work with me regardless of where you come from, what you look like, what your past experiences were, etc. Diversity and equity are important to me. I seek individuals who (regardless of their current viewpoints and selves) are always willing to listen and evolve, to consider alternative viewpoints with good faith, and who above all else, endeavor to be kind in their interactions with others.
Signing up to work with a professor, especially as a PhD student or a paid Research Assistant, is a significant responsibility and commitment on both of our parts. I have high expectations for myself, and in turn, I have high expectations from the students who work with me.
In general, we should all be responsive, respectful, honest, timely, and hard-working. When those things aren’t happening, we should talk to figure out how we can get better. I am less interested in having someone work for me than I am in working alongside them. This typically means that I want you to pursue an interest that I can support given my experiences and expertise.
I have no interest in designing the next great learning technology or learning game in the hope that it will “save” education. I confront this kind of techno-determinism as much as possible. I am also less interested in providing interventions to local stakeholders. I care deeply about developing personal relationships with members in my local community in order to support their ongoing endeavors in ways that help promote and sustain their ongoing efforts.
I see no purpose in work that does not “address how power and inequity under neoliberal and colonial forces are global phenomena that manifest in locally specific ways” (Phillip, Bang & Jackson, 2o17, n.p). I believe this kind of work comes in many guises and aspire to continue to move my work forward in a way that responds to this clarion call.
If you work with me, you should have a deep understanding of the many people who have influenced my work, including my advisor, Kevin Leander, and mentor, Rogers Hall. You should know the work of the people that I learned from and worked with when I was a doc student, like Jasmine Ma, Katie Headrick Taylor, and Nate Phillips. You should know of my on-going work with Christian Ehret. And you should know of the work of those who have inspired my thinking, like Victor Lee, Nichole Pinkard, Shirin Vossoughi, Megan Bang, Kylie Peppler, and Erica Halverson (in the Learning Sciences); Amy Stornaiulou, Guy Merchant, and Cathy Burnett (in Literacies Studies); and Mimi Ito and others (from the Digital Media and Learning Community)—among many others, of course. You should also develop a robust understanding of the kinds of theory that guide my thinking, including spatiality, materiality, temporality, and affect. I imagine this will take you into areas like Human Geography and Science and Technology Studies, too.
In general, I am committed to meet with students every week. I try not to take on too many students (typically between 3-6 students at any given time), to ensure that I can have some time to meet with everyone. New doctoral students are expected to meet with me weekly–some meetings will about 45 minutes, some will just be a few minutes. I value my time and yours and we should meet as often and as long as is productive, but not more than that. Senior students often transition to meeting every other week, or just on demand, after they’ve established their own research trajectory. Some graduate students work on small projects for a few hours a week and we may also meet less frequently. I ask that you prepare and agenda and send it to me one day in advance so I can best prepare for the time we have together.
Academic life is unlike many jobs because there is no 9-5 structure in place. This poses a few challenges that I expect my students to manage over time. First, it’s difficult to “shut off” and instead you can feel like you’re supposed to be working all the time. You should not work all the time, as it will take a toll on your physical and mental health. Take breaks, enjoy your life outside of work, pursue your interests, and develop your social relationships. I make time to exercise regularly, try not to open my computer in the evenings, and very rarely work on the weekends. Work is not my life.
I do not micro-manage my students or tell them what to do at all times. My style is to set milestones and goals, and give you freedom and agency to reach them. That means sometimes you’ll be confused or things will be ambiguous. You have the freedom to figure things out. But you should also ALWAYS reach out to me and ask questions, all-the-time, and not leave things unsaid or undone. If you start to see me needing to micromanage you more and more, this is a sign that you’re not meeting your work responsibilities adequately.
You will need to learn how to focus, manage your time, and work more efficiently. These skills are difficult as a new scholar and student — but you should see yourself getting better and more efficient as you progress through your doctoral studies. If you do not see this progress, or are struggling with time management or being overwhelmed — don’t wait to talk to me about it and we can figure things out together. This is a critical part of our relationship.
The university (like most of society) has strong hierarchical structures. Professors are in positions of power over students and students are unfortunately not always able to speak up when something isn’t right. I welcome student input, especially if I or one of my colleagues has said or done something that makes a student feel uncomfortable. Harassment, intolerance, and other injustices are not okay. I also ask students to see me in “good faith”, that I will always try to do the right thing and help you. Though I can’t promise just outcomes, I will be available to listen to students and try to make their experiences better.
Are there things I’ve forgotten to address? Other things that would improve student experiences? Please do email me and let me know.