Teaching & Speaking

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On Teaching

My approach to teaching demands honesty — presenting myself genuinely to a class, being fully present and engaged, and being open to the needs of the participants. Only through open dialogue with students can we learn how they think, what they need, or where their interests or aspirations lie.

By listening with intention and care, I give students the respect they deserve as humans engaging in a collaborative educational experience. People tend to return the respect they are given, which in teaching creates mutually beneficial, cooperative learning environments. I work to create situations where students hold more knowledge or expertise in the subject matter and I share my experience with writing, teaching, and learning to help them examine their perceptions and develop their perspectives.

Within mutually beneficial, cooperative environments, teaching and learning can flourish—particularly teaching that incorporates careful listening, attentive flexibility, and a dash of trust. Combining these elements creates classes that respond to students and emphasize not the content but the people involved. And as teachers, the people we work with constitute our top priority.

Two fundamental values guide my teaching philosophy:

  1. Listen to students.
  2. Let students learn for themselves.

These principles direct both my course design and daily interactions. At their most basic, the two principles lead me to give students opportunities to discuss and share ideas rather than lecture. These principles compel me to help shape how students think without telling them what to think, allowing them to make connections and reach conclusions on their own.

Each of these principles lead to greater student agency in the classroom. By listening to students first and foremost, I demonstrably prioritize their needs over my agenda. I use their feedback to determine pacing, conversation topics, and enrichment exercises to help them where they are.

Letting students learn for themselves allows me to be seen as a collaborator, rather than an answer key. I lead students through adaptive learning experiences, rather than toward a predetermined outcome. This does not involve an abandonment of outcomes but rather a recognition that the journey proves more valuable than the destination.

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I have an idea to share. Designing a website during the COVID-19 pandemic means I can't get a photo of me sharing it. So this lightbulb will have to do. Something something metaphor.

Upcoming Presentations

Conferences & Seminars

Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI) 2020

[Conference suspended due to covid-19]

01–05 Jun 2020

University of Victoria



Along with Chris Gilliard, I will co-facilitate “Critical Pedagogy and Digital Praxis in the Humanities,” a five-day exploration of how student agency can drive education in the Digital Humanities. This track will design, build, and launch an online course designed to teach DH practitioners about Critical Pedagogy.

Digital Pedagogy Lab (DPL) 2020

[Courses held virtually due to covid-19]

27–31 Jul 2020

University of Colorado, Denver



Along with Jakob Gowell, I will co-facilitate “Introduction to Critical Digital Pedagogy,” a five-day overview of Critical Pedagogy and its applications in digital spaces. This track will help participants reframe their teaching philosophy, a course syllabus, or specific assignments while also building “why sheets” to focus on praxis.

Digital Pedagogy Institute (DPI) 2020

05–06 Aug 2020

University of Toronto, Scarborough



Presenting conference keynote; specific topic/title TBD.

What Students & Participants Say

  • “I did not expect such a transformative opportunity. What a joy to be able to witness your critical pedagogical practice, your patience and rigor and large-heartedness in holding the space for a student-centered experience. I learned so much–not only about the precise questions I brought to the class, but also about how this kind of education works more generally and about new aspects of teaching and instructional design, and so much more.”

    Jess Fenn
    Lecturer, SUNY Geneseo
  • “I will be forever indebted to Chris for the caring, compassionate, rigorous, and career-changing instruction he offered me during one of the most intellectually memorable experiences in my career.”

    Lucia Pawlowski
    Assistant Professor, University of St. Thomas
  • “This course…allowed for the excess pressure of writing to be done away with while opening my mind to thinking more before I did ANYTHING! The professor taught in a way that made me believe that the concepts were my own and not theories that were ratified years before.”

    Course Evaluation
    First-Semester FYC
  • “Professor Friend is excellent to work with. He communicates well and is extremely fair in assessing assignments.”

    Course Evaluation
    Online FYC