Teaching has been instrumental in my life as a cartographer and geographer! I've been surrounded by incredible teachers throughout my undergraduate and graduate work and I hope I've picked up a few things from them along the way. I've had an array of teaching experiences in- and outside of the classroom, including TA and lecture opportunities along with community driven teaching opportuntities as a MapTime Madison organizer.
The UW–Madison Cartography Lab has provided an amazing learning enviroment where I've been able to contribute to (and gain) mentorship from peers and colleagues. I hope to bring a similar environment wherever I end up. Teaching is hands down one of the most rewarding jobs. It has also greatly enhanced and pushed my research in new directions. You can find out more on my teaching experience here.
If I had to sum up my teaching philosophy in five words, they would be inclusion, active engagement, exploration, feedback, and accountability.
Inclusion is my priority. I continually look for ways to create a more inclusive environment that embraces and respects all students and is conducive to multiple learning styles.
Let's be honest. Sometimes mapping fundamentals can be a bit dry. There's only so much you can know about thematic maps. Once you know one or two, the rest come pretty easy with a simple Google search. To mix things up, I limit my lecture time in lieu of free writes, discussions, map critiques, and group activities. I further support active engagement by asking students to help curate course materials.
I found myself as a cartographer through exploration. With all cartography coursework, there are clear objectives, technologies, and outcomes that I expect students to walk away with, but I also like to make space for exploration. My lecture activities allow students to explore something new, perhaps a new tool, idea, or aesthetic. Students aren't graded on the final outcome, but a brief reflection on the process.
Feedback is extremely important in any design setting. I try to build in multiple layers of feedback. Short, peer to peer critique and feedback are structured into lab time. Group workshoping for project proposals are great in the lecture room. I also schedule "map parties" where students can work in UW Cart Lab and know that there will be others working on the same project. Students also have the opportunity to get feedback from me at any point in time in person or via email!
Map design is hard, super rewarding, and at times, super frustrating. As an instructor, I have pretty high expectations in terms of outcomes but also the amount of time put into a map. Some maps are beautiful and polished, but others might not have gotten there. Did the student learn a new tool? Or did the student try thirteen layouts and seven aesthetic styles? That's even better! All I ask is that students are accountable to their work and process. I ask students to write reflections with each map to enhance transparency and help me better understand their process.