The English Department Non-Tenure Track Faculty (NTTF) Committee does all kinds of good work. One good thing is their newsletter “In Addition…News from the English Department’s NTTF Committee.” One of the features of the newsletter, which is sent monthly to NTTF in the department, is a faculty profile, which they’ve agreed to let us share on the blog. The first of the series is Kristen Foster.
What name do you prefer to go by? Where are you located on campus?
“Kristen” works just fine. My family calls me Krissy, but as this conjures images of Suzanne Summers’ character from Three’s Company, I stay away from it in professional settings! I’m over in Clark A 019, which I’m feeling quite grateful for given Eddy construction this year.
What courses do you teach at CSU? What (if any) courses have you taught before?
I teach CO130 and CO150 (specializing in teaching non-native English speakers) in the English Department, as well as classes over at INTO during the summers. Before coming to CSU to study for my M.A. in TEFL/TESL, I taught EFL in Korea to elementary school kids.
Why did you want to become a teacher? Describe your teaching style.
During my senior year at The University of Missouri-Columbia, one of my creative writing mentors helped me through the process of applying to M.F.A. programs. She advised that if I wasn’t accepted to any of those programs, I should consider traveling overseas to teach English. Well, I didn’t get in to any M.F.A. programs, and in retrospect, I realize that this was the most fortunate “failure” of my life. I moved to Korea that summer after graduating to teach English. [At some point] I became really passionate about teaching and teaching well, and after doing some research into TEFL/TESL programs, discovered this field allowed me to combine this new passion with my passion for the English language and writing.
As for my teaching style, I like to think of myself as a coach and a facilitator. I know that my students can become exceptional writers and English language speakers, and I never hesitate to let them know that I believe in their ability to succeed. However, I’m also clear with them that I expect them to be self-regulated and willing to invest the time and energy required to reach course objectives. During class, rather than lecturing, I ask students to come to class already familiarized with the day’s concept(s) through independent reading and homework, so that in class, I can facilitate their deeper understanding of those concepts through student-centered activities.
What do you like to do when you are not teaching?
When I’m not teaching, I’m typically reading, playing rummy with my gal pals, studying languages (French at the moment—the pronunciation is positively perplexing, although I’m increasingly noticing patterns), running mountain trails, or thinking about which mountain trails I’m going to run next.
What accomplishments (teaching- and/or not teaching-related) are you most proud of?
In terms of teaching, I think I’m most proud of the growth mindset that I’ve cultivated over the last several years. Teaching, as we all know, is tough, and for me, it’s an emotional endeavor that sometimes leaves me feeling like I’m not doing as well as I should or could be. Yet, I now understand that I’m probably not doing as well as I could be, because I’m a relatively new teacher, and that “expertise”—however we want to define it—develops over time with constant reflection and openness to revision.
As for non-teaching accomplishments that I’m most proud of, what comes to mind now is running my first 50-mile race over the summer. The course meanders up, down and around the San Juan Mountains in Colorado. It’s a tough course; but, I made it through the crossings and over the peaks, and am happy and proud to have paced myself well enough to finish it with a smile on my face (and—ahem—45 minutes faster than my fiancé’s time from a prior year. But don’t tell him I told the entire English Department!).
If you were to have a novel written about your life, who would you like to write it?
Jeanette Winterson. She writes so poetically and honestly, and I would be honored to be the subject of her work (although, the product would be a bit boring, I’m afraid!).