Photo of Michelle Flory

Alumni Spotlight: Michelle Flory

WRD recently caught up with Michelle Flory, a 2015 alumna of the M.A. in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse program and the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) Certificate program.  Currently, she works as a full-time developmental communications instructor at Moraine Valley Community College in Palos Hills, Illinois.  Her research interests include sociolinguistics, first-year writing, and multi-modal literacies.  She is a pet parent to three mischievous bunnies and a cat, a Netflix binge-watcher, and an annual roadtripper.

What have you been doing professionally since you earned your MA degree?
After earning my M.A., I began teaching developmental writing courses as an adjunct instructor at Moraine Valley Community College (MVCC).  I was already teaching various levels of English as a Second Language as well as U.S. Citizenship courses at Moraine Valley, but earning my degree allowed me to expand the variety of courses that I could teach at the college-level. Last fall, I accepted a full-time, tenure-track faculty position at MVCC teaching COM 085 and COM 090 courses.  These foundational writing courses equip underprepared students with the necessary tools to write clear, effective paragraphs and essays to successfully transition into college-level writing courses.

What is a typical day “on the job” for you?
A typical day on the job may entail teaching two or three developmental writing courses, meeting with students during office hours, collaborating across campus with the Counseling and Career Development Center or the Center for Disability Services to better serve students, attending a professional development workshop to hone teaching methods, grading the self-replenishing tower of tests and papers, connecting with faculty mentors for guidance, and/or exploring innovative approaches to improve student engagement and retention.

How did your education from DePaul and WRD specifically influence what you’re doing now?
My education from DePaul instilled in me a (greater) love of the English language.  I had never taken linguistics or TESOL courses prior to my graduate work, so with a solid theoretical and practical foundation in TESOL, I have a deeper appreciation for and a cultural awareness of the linguistic capital my students bring into the classroom.  My coursework trained me in the theories of language acquisition, the methodology for teaching second languages to adult learners, the ideologies and relationships between language and society (and, of course, identity), and the pedagogical grammar of the English language.  As a writing instructor, I embrace the diversity of language variation in my classroom of multilingual writers.

What were the most helpful courses you took in WRD and TESOL?
From incorporating universal design into my classroom to designing communicative grammar lessons, each one of my graduate courses has become a part of my teaching fabric.  More specifically, WRD 540: Teaching Writing allowed me to reflect on my own literacy and writing process, to hone my teaching philosophy as a new writing instructor, and to examine effective methods of responding to student writing.  Additionally, because English is not the first language for many of my students, my TESOL coursework, particularly WRD 543: Teaching ESL Writing, provided me a theoretical foundation of language learning, tackling writing myths and plagiarism concerns across various cultures.  The support of my WRD professors allowed me the opportunity to incorporate my experiences as an ESL instructor at MVCC into my projects and assignments, which enriched my understanding of concepts and theories.

What advice would you give to a WRD and or TESOL Certificate student who would one day like to work in job like yours?
Overcome Imposter Syndrome.  Present at the Spread the WoRD conference.  Network with classmates and professors.  Start adjuncting to get teaching experience.  Go to conferences in your field.  Seek out professional development opportunities.  Have confidence in your abilities.