Foster, Cheryl

Advisor Department





lesbian; gay; sexuality; transgender; history; pedagogy

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 License.


When the Students Teaching Students program called for submissions for student created courses I jumped at the opportunity to learn and share with a group of peers dedicated to a subject. The close to year long process culminated in the first Students Teaching Students course at URI, focusing on the history of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) people: HPR 107: Introduction to LGBTQ History.

Just getting ready to teach was a multifaceted process, since I tend to fluctuate between ravenously seizing every book I can get my hands on and devising practical applications for that intellectual knowledge. First I needed to create a syllabus that represented what I wanted to teach, which in my case involved questions in the field of Gay and Lesbian studies. Once the syllabus was accepted I set about creating lesson plans and course materials to help get across the ideas I found so important. For example, I looked at questions around the construction of sexual and gender identities, differing sexual customs and practices, and the struggle to create minority identities in America. After months of preparation - including serving as a class assistant for PHL 205: Philosophical Topics where I studied and practiced pedagogical techniques for my course - I was finally ready to teach on my own.

Though the preparation for this course was important, the strongest benefit of this project was uncovered through the actual day to day teaching. Twice a week I was able to meet and discuss my favorite ideas with an engaged group of brilliant honors students who worked hard to sustain our common vision for the course. While creating group work, quizzes, essays and lectures helped me process, digest and communicate about the material, interaction with other students, and my evaluation of that interaction, prompted the greatest growth in me as a teacher. My pedagogical preparation was invaluable to my success in this project yet it was though actually working with students that I learned to teach.

This project allowed me to test the waters of my field, and I managed to swim to the finish. Not only did I vastly expand my knowledge of LGBTQ history; I developed pedagogical techniques that will sustain me throughout my professional career, a career as a professor of history. Students Teaching Students allowed me to step out of the armchair of academia into the real world, to discuss issues of critical importance to our society and to begin the process of knowledge and understanding that lies at the heart of overcoming oppression.