I value the knowledge that I have gained throughout my own scholarship as a student, therefore I think it is important that teachers engage their students and foster a sense of community within the classroom for a variety of voices and opinions to be expressed. One phrase that has consistently motivated me to keep learning and growing as an academic is, “this is only temporary.” This statement is profound in that it encourages me to get through difficult challenges by realizing there are opportunities that have yet to be discovered. In this same vein, “this is only temporary” also encourages me to take full advantage of every moment, especially moments that are valuable in the classroom. For students, I think sometimes it may be harder to see the rewards of their hard work when they are taking a full load of classes or preparing for multiple exams in one week. Therefore, I remind them that once assignments are turned in, they can take a break and do something that brings them joy. Therefore, I frame learning as a privilege that should be embraced rather than a burden.
The dynamics of power and oppression are evident in my research, which I often reference in my lectures, when the content allows. I cover a variety of topics related to the course, which allows me to include examples that are representative of different cultures, sexualities, genders, races, religions, abilities, and other identities. Additionally, I recognize the ways in which I have power in the classroom. Students are expecting that I provide guidance through the course, which can often conflict with the various subjugated parts of my identity. Therefore, I use my unique platform to highlight these issues of social justice by explicitly stating my positionality in many of the topics that I cover.
As a new instructor, I value feedback in order to improve my teaching style so that students are better able to learn and engage with the material. For example, I provided a voluntary and anonymous mid-semester evaluation survey for my current students to complete. Overall, they provided feedback consistent with how I view my work, with comments such as “[Ms. Cooke] is really good at engaging the class which is great for a morning class.” Furthermore, I will know that I have taught effectively when students feel comfortable enough providing feedback and engaging in thoughtful conversations in class. One student provided the following feedback, “I’ve enjoyed the open conversations we’ve had about sexuality, it’s a safe space and it really teaches us everything we need to know to be safe but also enjoy our sexuality.”
I realize that I teach Human Sexuality (HD: 2314) to undergraduates, which can be a sensitive topic for some students. However, this course includes content that could be empowering for an individual. Additionally, I want students to be aware of the resources available to them on campus and within the surrounding community as evidenced by the following statement from a student, “I thought that having the people from the Health Center was interesting, informative, and a good change of pace!” As an outcome of my teaching, I expect that students will be able to take their newfound knowledge and apply it to their daily lives, relationships, and families.
Summer 2021, Instructor of Record (HPC 6526)
Summer 2021, Instructor or Record (HD 1134)
Spring 2021, Instructor of Record (HD 2134)
Fall 2020, Instructor of Record (HD 2314)
Winter 2020, Instructor of Record (HD 2314)
Spring 2019, Instructor of Record (HD 2314)
Fall 2018, Teaching Apprentice (HD 2314)
2020, Application reviewer, VT Graduate Academy of Teaching Excellence (VT GrATE)
2019-Present, Associate VT GrATE
Recent Invited Lectures:
Cooke, S. & Ba, L. (2020, February). Inclusive practices for intersecting identities. Invited talk for Q*nnection, LGBTQ+ Resource Center, Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA, United States.