Junior Faculty Teaching Fellow Spotlight: John Bradley
“Whether in a one-on-one conference with a student in the Writing Studio or in the literature classroom, I aim to help my students harness the power of talk and the exchange of ideas as a central part of what it means to be an active participant in the production of knowledge.”
I serve as an assistant director of the Writing Studio and as a senior lecturer in the English Department, and there’s a lot of shared ground between how I approach those roles. Whether in a one-on-one conference with a student in the Writing Studio or in the literature classroom, I aim to help my students harness the power of talk and the exchange of ideas as a central part of what it means to be an active participant in the production of knowledge. This extends to how I approach teaching the writing process, as well. I encourage my students to understand writing not as a solitary pursuit of the wee hours of the morning that they hand in to an instructor the next day, come what may, but as a process that should emerge from and lead back to discussion, all part of the academy’s much larger and ongoing exchange of ideas. Similarly, I want them to approach their writing—everything from a free-writing exercise to the drafting of an essay—as more than the task of recording their thoughts, but as medium of discovery and exploration itself, an opportunity to generate a new and exciting understanding for themselves of a text or some other object of analysis. In the English department, the courses I teach largely revolve around poetry, and as we explore the links between poetic form and content, consider a poem in light of its historical moment, or debate issues of literature’s efficacy in instigating political or social change, I work hard to create a classroom environment that fosters such moments of exploration and discovery that will bleed over from discussion into their essays.
In line with my experience as an administrator in the Writing Studio, I am also convinced that some learning will always take place most effectively one-on-one between teacher and student. Such meetings act as an essential opportunity for students to be heard, to ask questions, and for us to collaborate in working toward answers. Some of my greatest successes as a teacher have come from the extra time I have spent working one-on-one with students, and I enjoy nothing more than seeing a student leave a conference with me excited to get to work after having talked through the ideas he or she was so anxious about when first coming through my door.