Teaching Philosophy

Through my teaching, I aim to help students see themselves as agents capable of bringing about change via their written, verbal, and visual communication. In first year composition courses, this frequently means having students develop meta-cognitive awareness of rhetorical knowledge and apply it  as we analyze and produce a wide variety of multimodal genres. Similarly, in professional writing courses, students learn to combine their content knowledge from other disciplines such as engineering or health sciences with writing and research practices in order to produce texts that impact various stakeholders. In general, the following concepts guide my pedagogy across each course:

Curiosity about Technology

Students come in to our classrooms already entwined into various engagements with technological resources. I tap into those entanglements and illuminate how technology affords certain rhetorical choices and forecloses others. For example, in class we frequently talk about how the same message would need to be altered due to genre and media constraints. A Facebook post is different than an email, which are both distinct from a text message and each must take context and audience into account before being written, sent, and/or posted. We use this discussion to springboard into a discussion of how communities utilize certain technologies and how in order to reach certain individuals, certain media must be utilized. In introductory composition courses, students choose their own media and genres in order to convey their message to audiences: Students remediate their research into podcasts, videos, speeches, and other forms of communication in order to reach their intended and secondary audiences.

In professional writing courses, we discuss the importance of learning new tools on the job. This frequently means having to dive in to new processes and communicative technologies and relying on various resources to learn how to adapt to these new methods. Students learn to work with such tools as Adobe Photoshop and InDesign in order to gain a hands-on understanding of design principles and to gain practice producing texts that will have an impact on workplace environments. In both cases, I hope to instill students with a sense of curiosity about new technological tools (for example, document design software, programming languages, audio or visual communication technologies, and so forth) so that they can continue to expand their available means of persuasion in whatever situations they will face beyond the classroom.

Writing, Researching, and Designing within Collaborative Contexts

Frequently, students in my professional writing courses produce work for clients in the community. For example, in my healthcare writing courses, we have partnered with local food banks and elder care facilities to produce health-information materials which ask students in health-related fields to apply a range of writing, research, design skills to respond to a health-communication exigence. Students learn to conduct research specifically to learn about what methods and practices have been implemented in the past and base their projects off of those findings. As importantly, students conduct primary research by listening to what users have to say through interviews and usability testing in order to determine how their projects should be altered to better fit the needs of our partners.

Within first-year composition, students also engage in these rhetorical practices in order to convey information about a particular discourse community that they belong to or a specific issue that they are interested in to outsiders who may be unfamiliar with these particular points. Often, students use various media to reach different members of the class, but frequently, we have also partnered with other sections of introductory composition in order to create a larger community of learners who can learn together and provide feedback on each other’s documents in terms of writing and content. This collaborative context allows students to put their learning of writing, design, and research into practice by producing documents that are rhetorically sound—making brochures that are multilingual, using specific colors on websites for color-blind populations, and adhering to best practices for usability and information protection policies.

Reflective Learning and Adaptive Teaching

During the course of a semester, students learn a tremendous amount about writing and analysis that it can become easy for them to forget how much they actually know by the end of a semester. Asking students to periodically explain to me, themselves, or each other what has been meaningful, what has changed their thinking, and where they are struggling has helped students—and me as the instructor—to articulate what they are learning and how they are learning it. This frequently takes the shape of having students submit professional memos to me in professional writing courses wherein they explain what research and writing they are planning to do for their project within the next week and why they think this will be effective in meeting the needs of the assignment. In introductory composition courses, students complete periodic “theory of writing” reflections in which they explain how their understanding of what writing is and how it works has changed based on our reading and discussions. These documents provide a glimpse into the learning that goes on in the classroom and also gives students to talk about what they have learned about writing in specific, agentic ways. Moreover, I use my background in counseling to listen to what students are saying about their experiences as members of this community of learners and to adapt my teaching to fit their needs.


Teaching Materials


Research in Professional Writing (Purdue University: 1 section)

Research in Professional Writing (Purdue University: 1 section)

Healthcare Writing (Purdue University: 4 sections)

Healthcare Writing (Purdue University: 4 sections)

Students in this class discussed issues in health communication within the context of differing audiences (other professionals, patients, insurance organizations, clients' family members) and the implications of poorly circulated documentation for patient treatment.

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Business Writing (Purdue University: 2 sections)

Business Writing (Purdue University: 2 sections)

Students completed business communication assignments including background reports, marketing proposals, presentations, job documents, and interviews.

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Professional Writing (Saint Mary's University of Minnesota: 1 section)

Professional Writing (Saint Mary's University of Minnesota: 1 section)

In this concentrated course, I taught nontraditional students--many of whom were already in workplace environments that asked them to communicate professionally-- about business genres and practices. Students were encouraged to find topics that pertained to their workplaces and apply them to this course. For example, in the backgrounder assignment, many students opted to research a policy or procedural change that needed to be addressed at corporations or organizations that they belonged to and then craft an implementation strategy in their proposal assignments, which many students presented at their workplaces.

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  • Syllabus for COM 309
  • Sample Student Proposal
  • (A student used this assignment to design a proposal for her Rotary Club's current difficulty with building and retaining membership. Her research and recommendations were presented to the club's stakeholders.

Technical Writing Online (Purdue University: 1 section)

Technical Writing Online (Purdue University: 1 section)

In this condensed online course, students learned skills in collaborating with peers from a distance. Students worked on a whitepaper project in which they conducted secondary research on a particular innovation for their fictitious company and proposed a method of implementing aspects of that innovation. Students also developed instructions, which were posted on Instructables.com. Students learned about creating and implementing "key-task" testing and "get-it" testing usability protocols in order to enhance their instructions.

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Introductory Composition (Purdue University: 4 sections)

Introductory Composition (Purdue University: 4 sections)

The first 3 sections of this course Writing about Writing (WaW) and Digital Rhetorics (DR) approaches to teaching first-year composition. For example, students used Tumblr posts as invention material for composing literacy narratives and also composed websites to describe discourse communities that they belonged to to students in other sections of the course. Peer review consisted of providing their peers advice on writing and design choices.

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Another section of this course was taught as a Writing Across Contexts course in which students developed a language for genre and rhetorical situations through prose and academic sources. Their final assignment pulled from their research project and consisted of asking them to remediate their project into 3 different genres of their choosing (podcasts, videos, speeches, brochures, etc) to be disseminated among different types of audiences. Students also kept and revised a journal on their theory of writing, changing it as their ideas of what it means to be a writer and how writing works evolved with each new reading and assignment.

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Critical Thinking And Writing I & II (University of St. Thomas: 1 section of each)

Critical Thinking And Writing I & II (University of St. Thomas: 1 section of each)

At the University of St. Thomas, I Implemented two comp-lit course. English 111 focused on having students learn different literary genres (memoirs, short stories, novels), appreciate diverse cultural perspectives, engage in written discourse with texts they read by constructing well thought out theses, and practice different types of high and low-stakes writing (journal entries, formal papers, cover letters).

English 112 asked students to engage in close reading and analysis of various poems (in terms of rhythm, meter, metaphor, etc). Students also learned the language of stage production; conducted academic research; and used textual evidence to support their claims.

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Animal Sciences/WAC Collaboration (Purdue University: 6 sections)

Animal Sciences/WAC Collaboration (Purdue University: 6 sections)

At Purdue University, the Animal Science department has built a collaborative partnership with the Writing Lab. During my time as a WAC coordinator for an Animal Genetics course, I instructed students on professional writing strategies and genres. Responsibilities included conducting presentations on genre conventions and visual design principles, providing feedback to student memos, letters, and reports, as well as coordinating with the course instructor to communicate student progress and iterative changes to the WAC assignments, schedule, and policies.

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Student Comments/Evaluations

Five themes are salient in the comments that students have provided regarding my teaching over the last five years and a dozen course sections of writing instruction:

  • Equity: Respecting students’ viewpoints, learning styles, and backgrounds.
  • Face-to-Face Outreach: Asking students about their projects and interests when they may seem confused or frustrated
  • Developing Critical Thinking: Challenging students to engage with ideas about technology, research, writing, and culture to promote agency
  • Engagement in the Classroom: Creating a community of learners in the classroom
  • Enthusiasm: Relating to students as a person and inspiring students to become excited about their writing

I define each of these themes below and also provide sample student comments to demonstrate my abilities in the classroom. Note: All spelling and word choice are {sic}.


Respecting students’ viewpoints, learning styles, and backgrounds. Being able to adapt to students’ needs in the classroom in order to provide them with the tools they will need in order to claim their identities as writers.

-He is balanced. No one feels “stupid” in his class either. In high school, composition instructors were usually pretentious and condescending. Fernando Sanchez levels with students and leads them to do better. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


-Professor Sanchez does a very well job of giving honest but respectful feedback. His revisions and comments are helpful and make for better work in the future without criticizing the students’ writing techniques. I think that his comments helped me the most in this class to improve my writing. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


– He is very good at providing timely, and valuable feedback. I know that all assignments will be graded quickly, but still be read thoroughly and fairly. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– Listens to everyone’s opinion and never makes anyone feel dumb for their answer. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– The professor gives some really valuable advice which really helped me at least improve a lot on my writing skills and made me feel confident! (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– He is always open to discussion in class. He likes to hear all points of views and is fun to learn from. He also makes jokes which are pretty great. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2013)


– Professor Sanchez is one of the best teachers that I have ever met. He treats everyone equally  despite  ethnicity and sexual orientation. The atmosphere in class is very good and active. I love his teaching! (Business Writing: Fall 2013)


– Instructor always allows more time for students finishing the assignments. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– The attitude towards the students are excellent. Willing to help students. Response the email quickly. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)

Equity     |     Face-to-Face Outreach     |     Developing Critical Thinking     |     Engagement in the Classroom     |     Enthusiasm

Face-to-Face Outreach

Asking students about their projects and interests when they may seem confused or frustrated; Providing students with extra feedback so that they can improve or continue to do well.

-I thought Fernando had great feedback that helped me improve where improvement was needed. I also thought he provided good positive feedback; this motivated me. I also felt that he really took his job seriously and put a lot of effort into it – this also made me want to work hard, so as not to let him down and show that I appreciated his efforts. (COM 309: Summer 2015)


– The instructor was very good at helping explain things to me when I had questions about an assignment. He was always enthusiastic in class and made it exciting to learn more about documents and writing. (Business Writing: Spring 2013)


– You can tell that Fernando is passionate about technical writing. He makes himself very approachable for students to ask questions (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


-He will help individuals when they need extra help. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


-The professor takes time to understand the problems and issues his students are facing in the class and communicates with them on what he can do to help them (Connects with students. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012).


– Professor Sanchez is always prepared to ask questions about our projects and also gives examples to help us understand his explanations. (First-Year Composition: 2013)


– I feel that Fernando is very good at explaining the information, he is willing to see you after class to help explain things and can explain it in different ways (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– He always makes sure that he is there to help us when we have a question or just need help (First-Year Composition: Fall 2013)


– He is good at making sure the class feels comfortable with deadlines and course assignments. I appreciated the dialogue he provided for us about the upcoming tasks. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– He does a great job of obtaining feedback to address any concerns from the students as the semester progresses. He makes sure we are on track with our projects with progress reports throughout the semester. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– You were very easily approached and that alone makes you a better teacher than most! Thank you for a great semester! (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– He is always willing to help out and answer any questions that you have about a certain project. He was easy to approach and super friendly! (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– The instructor always made himself available whenever we needed help with assignments. He provided excellent and detailed feedback on all of our assignments. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– He takes a lot of time to write individualized feedback on every assignment, which is always helpful come time for the next one. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


Equity     |     Face-to-Face Outreach     |     Developing Critical Thinking     |     Engagement in the Classroom     |     Enthusiasm

Developing Critical Thinking

Challenging students to engage with difficult ideas about technology, research, writing, and culture to promote agency.

– Fernando Sanchez does an excellent job at keeping the course interesting and applicable to real workplace situations. The way he presents the materials and conducts his classroom makes for a great learning environment where students feel comfortable, respected, and willing to participate. I personally appreciated how he was vague enough with directions to encourage creativity, but direct enough that it was clear what was expected of you. He is clearly passionate about the course and projects that to his students. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– Profressor Sanchez makes it a point to have his students become engaged within the classroom and challenges them to think of their future in the workplace. He is easy to talk to and I can tell he wants what is best for his students. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


-The instructor is very knowledgeable and at the end of this class I feel more confidant as a writer .I am now more aware of paper structure and how to gain research more thoroughly. (COM 309: 2015)


-I thoroughly enjoyed the course as it offered new theories and concepts not previously used in high school (First-Year Composition: Fall 2014)


-Class discussions help engage critical thinking skills (First-Year Composition: Fall 2014)


-Connects with students. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


-He does great activities and also relates our readings to our projects well which helps us understand better. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


-He helps me come up with different ideas with my writing very well but does not tell me exactly what to do which is nice. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


-Professor Sanchez gives feedback promptly on assignments and engages us in meaningful class discussions. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2013)


– Keep up being a great teacher! People may complain about the course work, but know that you are doing great! The objectives that are presented in this class are not easy ones to conquer, so just do the best that you can. The class is an enjoyable one, and I have learned a lot. I appreciate that I have been able to learn as much as I have, and I appreciate more than anything that this class challenged us more so than most other ENGL 106 classes, as I hear that they are much “easier” and do not challenge the minds of the students. So, overall, I would say to keep up the good work. Don’t ever think that a student who is here doesn’t deserve to be challenged by the writing that they are doing or the reading that they need to complete. Keep being awesome! (First-Year Composition: Fall 2013)


– The instructor did well at exposing us to a wide variety of aspects in technical medical writing. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2014)


Equity     |     Face-to-Face Outreach     |     Developing Critical Thinking     |     Engagement in the Classroom     |     Enthusiasm

Engagement in the Classroom

Creating a community of learners in the classroom.

-The professor provides a very friendly environment and encourages classmates to interact with each other. He is very good with providing feedback and suggestions for improvement. It is very easy to get in contact with him, whenever we have questions or are having trouble. He respects all students and treat everyone equally. We also get everything done in time. I never expected to get to know everyone in the class or even be able to exchange conversations with a professor when coming to college, but professor sanchez provided a really good learning experience. I would recommend this professor to the future students. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– I did feel this class was very informative and taught us good research skills and writing skills. I liked the time we had for peer reviews, to get more prespective on our papers than just feedback from the teacher. I also liked how we did group tasks during class, to get to know our classmates better. For me, this helped for my presenation at the end, felt more comfortable. (COM 309: Summer 2015)


I hope he will keep up his great attitude as well as continue to be influential in the students daily lives and not just their academic lives like he does now. (First-Year Composition: 2014)


-He encourages group discussions which I like.(The professor takes time to understand the problems and issues his students are facing in the class and communicates with them on what he can do to help them (Connects with students. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012)


– Just relating to the students. Felt like you were one of us and it helped learning because it wasn’t some old person teaching their ways. You listened to the students and changed with us. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– I know this must be time consuming, but the comments Prof. Sanchez makes on my essays are really helpful when it comes to improving my writing. Also, the way he has us read at home and discuss what we read in class really helps tie any loose ends I had when reading the piece alone. The discussions allowed different ideas to be shared and made the class more engaging. I think Prof. Sanchez should keep teaching the course the way he is now. (First-Year Composition: Fall 2013)


– Does well with open communication and helping students. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– The instructor is really good at getting the whole class to participate in discussions about things we were doing or things we had to read and showed how certain things were relevant and related to other aspects of the class. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


-The instructor encouraged discussions very well with thought provoking questions. The instructor was also very helpful when students had problems, and was open to taking any questions until the assignment requirements were made very clear. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


– Fernando is always encouraging discussion and in-class participation, and does a good job getting people to think more deeply about the readings and projects. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


Equity     |     Face-to-Face Outreach     |     Developing Critical Thinking     |     Engagement in the Classroom     |     Enthusiasm


Relating to students as a person and inspiring students to become excited about their writing.

-All around the way he teaches. One of the greatest teacher I have ever had. I was a little intimated at the first impression, but he turned out to be a great teacher. Fun to be around and helped me with my writing a ton (First-Year Composition: Fall 2012).


– Very personable guy, I would not just say this about anyone but he is probably the best english teacher I have had in my years of schooling. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– He is very passionate about what he does. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– The Prof does a good job of getting things done in class while still making the class enjoyable. (First-Year Composition: Spring 2013)


– He has great enthusiasm (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– The instructor brought enthusiasm and interest to the topics we discussed in class. The class was well organized and structured around three different projects that are applicable to business writing. I like that I was exposed to a wide variety of resources for design, formatting, and research. This class was a mixture of individual and group work, which worked well considering that is how the real workplace will also be structured. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– Great personality, very lively. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– Good enthusiasm. Pleasant mood. (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– The enthusiasm of the class is nice to have (Business Writing: Spring 2014)


– In his teaching it shows that he does care about the class. I would encourage him to continue his positive attitude in class. (Business Writing: Spring 2013)


– Instructor is very enthusiastic. He seems genuinely happy to be teaching the class. (Business Writing: Spring 2013)


– I really like hes prepared for class, his enthusiams, and looks like he really cares about the class and progress of students. (Business Writing: Spring 2013)


– Fernando was always enthusiastic and excited to be in class. He was very helpful and would accommodate everyone’s needs. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Fall 2014)


– He was very enthusiastic about the course and always had a smile on his face. He created a welcoming environment for people to share their thoughts. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


– The instructor, Fernando Sanchez is very passionate about technically writing and his work as a professor. He brings energy into this class that has sparked many discussions. (Writing in the Health and Human Sciences: Spring 2015)


Equity     |     Face-to-Face Outreach     |     Developing Critical Thinking     |     Engagement in the Classroom     |     Enthusiasm