This week, the department continues our series of new faculty profiles by featuring Professor Diane Mooney, who joined our department this year. Diane earned her MFA in Creative Writing from Florida International University in 2008, and has taught both traditional and online courses at Florida International and Miami Dade College. She also taught for two years at Shantou University in China. Continue reading below for the interview conducted by English Department intern Nakkia Patrick.
*Photo provided by Diane Mooney
How has teaching abroad helped shape you as an educator?
The mission of Shantou University, where I taught in China, is to bring Western-style education to China. Students were used to listening to a teacher lecture for an hour with no opportunities to ask questions or work with each other on projects. Introducing the concept of the student-centered classroom was a challenge, but it reinforced my belief in Marshall Gregory’s notion of befriending, which “entails creating an atmosphere of classroom trust that can help students who are willing to take the risk of real engagement, the risk of failure and the commitment to practice that constitutes the grounds of learning.” To encourage student engagement, I developed and taught a food-writing class where students wrote memoirs, shared family recipes, and reviewed restaurants. Food and family are central in Chinese culture, and the students were very excited to share their culture with me. This experience also reinforced my belief that teachers need to be flexible to meet the needs of their students.