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.
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.
Do you have plans to teach abroad again? If so, where would you like to teach and why?
I have no plans to teach abroad again. While I enjoying traveling, I realized I’m not a good ex-pat. I missed my family and my friends too much. I have a list of countries I plan to visit–Tibet, Bhutan, back to Laos to see the Plain of Jars and the Pathet Lao caves—but no teaching will be involved.
After teaching in many places across the United States, how do you think it has helped you in the classroom now?
I’ve actually only taught for 2 colleges in Florida. However, I lived in Los Angeles while doing that. I like to say I put the distance into distance education. Since I’ve taught fully online for the past three years, getting back into a face-to-face classroom is exciting as I enjoy interacting with students.
What kinds of writing projects are you currently working on?
I am working on a novel and am putting together a chapbook of my poems. I also hope to put together a panel for the 2015 Conference on College Composition and Communication. Because my theme for my 104 classes in the Spring focuses on Muncie and the issues small towns face, I’ve been doing a lot of research on Muncie. Perhaps one day I’ll write a novel set in Muncie!
What other kinds of hobbies and interests do you have?
I took cooking lessons in China and enjoy preparing Chinese food as well as cooking whatever meat and produce I find at the Minnetrista Farmer’s Market. I love craft beer and am exploring the wonders of Indiana breweries. I also like thrifting, exploring new places (I can’t wait to see a covered barn!), reading, and watching The Walking Dead. I love to bike and hike and am a big fan of BSU’s Adult Fitness Center.