While my specialty is Spanish theater, I have taught courses on a wide variety of topics and themes, ranging from basic Spanish grammar classes to advanced literature and culture courses. I am prepared to teach on the following topics:
Survey of Peninsular Literature and Culture
Golden Age Spain - Literature and Culture
19th-21st Century Spanish Literature and Culture
20th-21st Century Spanish Literature and Culture
Latin American Civilization and Culture
Beginning, Intermediate, or Advanced Spanish Language and Grammar
Survey of Spanish Literature and Culture
Introduction to University Studies (Freshman Seminar)
Spanish in the Community
Spanish Painters: Diego Velázquez and Francisco de Goya
Saints and Bandits in Spanish Literature
Disease and Metaphor
I also have significant experience in preparing course websites and using online materials (e.g., Blackboard, Quia, McGraw-Hill’s CENTRO, and McGraw-Hill’s newest language learning platform, connect). During the summer of 2012, I created the online templates (foundation courses) on connect for UCI’s Spanish 1A, 1B, and 1C classes.
Below is a list of all the classes I have taught (all syllabi available upon request):
buena vista university
University Seminar (0BVU 100)
A New Chapter: Storytelling, Story Listening, and Story Writing
Honors Humanities (HONR 230)
The Meaning of Disease: Novelistic, Critical, and Filmic Interpretations of Illness throughout the Twentieth Century
Spanish Grammar, Conversation, and Culture:
Elementary Spanish I (SPAN 101)
Elementary Spanish II (SPAN 102)
Elementary Spanish Conversation Lab (SPAN 105)
Intermediate Spanish I (SPAN 201)
Intermediate Spanish II (SPAN 202)
Intermediate Spanish Conversation Lab (SPAN 205)
Spanish Literature, Civilization, History, and Art:
Culture and Civilization of Latin America (SPAN 312)
Introduction to Hispanic Literature (SPAN 335)
Survey of the Literature of Spain (SPAN 410)
Spanish Classics: La comedia (SPAN 430)
Special Topics: Santos y bandidos (SPAN 450)
Senior Seminar: La visión artística de un romántico: Francisco de Goya (SPAN 498)
International Experience (SPAN 490)
Lima & Cuzco, Perú (2017)
Barcelona, Spain (2019)
Spanish in the Community (SPAN 308)
University of california, Irvine
Spanish Grammar, Conversation, and Culture:
Fundamentals of Spanish I (SPAN 1A)
Fundamentals of Spanish II (SPAN 1B)
Fundamentals of Spanish III (SPAN 1C)
Fundamentals of Spanish I & II (accelerated; SPAN 1AB)
Fundamentals of Spanish II & III (accelerated; SPAN 1BC)
Humanities Freshman Seminar:
Humanities Core 1A (HUM 1A)
Humanities Core 1B (HUM 1B)
Humanities Core 1C (HUM 1C)
brigham young university
Spanish Grammar, Conversation, and Culture:
Foundational Spanish 1 (SPAN 101)
Foundational Spanish 2 (SPAN 102)
University Spanish 1 (SPAN 105)
University Spanish 2 (SPAN 106)
University Spanish 1 & 2 (accelerated; SPAN 105-106 acc.)
Not a day goes by that I do not speak, read, or write in Spanish. With the incoming cultural generation, wonderfully swelling with latino immigrants and Spanish heritage speakers, experience in the language represents far more than a simple box to check in order to fulfill General Education requirements. The present American reality reflects a dynamically hybrid society, richly composed of diverse ethnicities, backgrounds, and cultures, and requires a sophisticated level of mutual respect and understanding for us to truly appreciate one another. As a Spanish professor, my primary responsibility is to create an environment for my students that fosters unprejudiced cultural understanding, allows for deep critical thinking, and ultimately prepares them to engage with the Spanish-speaking world in a way that for them was previously impossible.
During the course of my undergraduate and graduate (MA) studies, I had the unforgettable opportunity to introduce the prodigious Spanish Golden Age to elementary, middle, and high school students across the Western United States. Dressed in full Golden Age theater attire, my colleagues and I would present brief descriptions of prolific writers such as Lope de Vega, Tirso de Molina, and Calderón de la Barca, contrasting them to better-known authors (e.g., Shakespeare) and more modern popular figures (e.g., J.K. Rowling). I frequently had the special chance to observe Spanish-speaking heritage students swell with pride as I decisively told them that this remarkable artistic legacy belongs to them–that Golden Age literature is theirs by cultural inheritance. Not to be underestimated, many of their classmates, especially those who only spoke English, expressed growing enthusiasm for both learning Spanish and reading Golden Age literature.
Most memorably, I recall a visit to the Slate Canyon Youth Center in Provo, Utah. Unmistakably a youth detention center, the Slate Canyon Youth Center is the unwelcoming home for many convicted youth. One author describes it as, “a jail for children.” In 2006, I walked through its doors, discarding anything that could perceivably be used as a weapon: my keys, my sunglasses, even my cellphone. After dressing into our costumes and patiently waiting in the recreation room, we uneasily observed our audience―young men and women all dressed in the homogenous orange jumpsuit of a detainee, shackled together at their feet by a small yet sturdy cord of chains―shuffle into the room. The opening and middle of our presentation―facts about the comediantes, general knowledge of the Siglo de Oro―went well and I apprehensively set about inviting audience members to participate in our typical closing scene. Bereft of our stage weapons (no metal objects were allowed in the center), I was hesitant to ask for volunteers. To my surprise, we were able to quickly locate a cast of characters. What I found most astonishing, however, was how engaged the audience became as their fellow participants recited their lines with conviction, acted out their parts with determination, and received deserving applause for a noteworthy performance. Several supervisors thanked us for offering this unique experience to the detainees, many of whom felt cast off by society like an unwanted burden. As a graduate student, I realized the powerful, uplifting effect of education; teaching became an opportunity to serve and inspire.
Experiences such as these come far too infrequently in our profession. At the time, I was the student guided by brilliant mentors. Today the tables have turned; now I am the professor seeking out ways to dissolve common misperceptions, share knowledge of a culture I love and admire, and truly connect in a meaningful way with my students. My teaching philosophy is to discover and practice innovative, creative, and fulfilling techniques that resonate in profound and important ways with those I teach. Whether that entails visiting the local youth detention center, supporting local Hispanic businesses through extra-curricular opportunities, or simply encouraging the students to act out scenes from a play in the comfort of our classroom, multiple methods exist to inspire our students and expand their cultural knowledge.
Such an opportunity arose in 2018, when I collaborated with three of my friends and colleagues (Dr. Jason Yancey, Dr. Esther Fernández, and Dr. Jonathan Wade) to form Dragoncillo, a puppetry troupe dedicated to bilingual storytelling. We committed to translating and adapting plays from the Spanish Golden Age for modern elementary and middle school audiences with one pedagogical caveat: we wanted our students to perform the roles. After some trial and error, we created a technique where students can rehearse and learn their parts in less than two hours, allowing them to perform with shadow puppets without the need to memorize lines. In May 2019, my students had the chance to bring these plays to the elementary schools in Storm Lake, Iowa. The overall experience—from the rehearsals to the performance—was immensely rewarding and several of my students commented that this was “one of the best things [they] had ever done.” The contagious laughter, thoughtful questions, and generous praise during each performance affirmed that the audience felt the same way.
If we as teachers can instill such enthusiasm for Spanish literature–i.e., a love for reading Spanish texts in Spanish–, surely we can build a strong sense of cultural appreciation–i.e., a love for learning about others and their cultures–among our students. This imperative for tolerance becomes especially necessary in the classroom, where different backgrounds, upbringings, and biases collide on a daily basis. The traditional role of teacher, as one that essentially relays knowledge to others, necessarily transforms into one that detects mutual interests, diffuses disagreements, and inspires and motivates students to seek out connections in their own lives, relating their experiences to others and embracing their perceived differences in order to build lasting relationships of comprehension and understanding.
buena vista University
As an institution specifically directed towards teaching, I am evaluated twice per semester at Buena Vista University. First, the dean of my school visits a selected class from a given semester and offers her evaluation; second, my students give a final evaluation of each course. Unfortunately, student evaluations are much harder to regulate--given their voluntary nature, I may get only 25% of the class to respond. Regardless, here is a brief summary of my evaluations at BVU:
Dean's evaluations: Since 2015, my class instruction has been evaluated five times by my dean, once each semester. Her evaluations tend to describe how the course rolls out on the day that she visits--she discusses lessons taught, activities held, student participation, etc. In her evaluations, I have consistently received high praise for my lesson preparation, student engagement, and overall enthusiasm. Classes that have been evaluated by my dean include: (1) SPAN 101 (fall 2015), (2) SPAN 202 (spring 2016), (3) 0BVU 100 (fall 2016), (4) SPAN 101 (spring 2017), (5) SPAN 410 (fall 2017), (6) SPAN 102 (spring 2018), (7) SPAN 101 (fall 2018), and (8) SPAN 102 (spring 2019). Copies of these evaluations are available upon request.
Student evaluations: Students are offered the opportunity at the end of each semester to evaluate their professor. These evaluations cover a wide array of questions, including personal details (e.g., is this a required course for your major? What grade do you expect to receive in this course?), aspects of the course (e.g., did the course assignments reflect the goals of the class? Were the expectations of the class clearly designated in the syllabus?), and observations on the instructor (e.g., what aspects of the instructor contributed most to your learning? Did the instructor make difficult material understandable?). In order to submit the evaluation, each student is required to answer 24 such questions, some of which use a scale of 1-5 (strongly agree - strongly disagree) while others are open-ended, providing students a text box to give helpful feedback or constructive criticism.
Of greatest interest to me personally and professionally are the students' responses to the following three questions:
What is your overall rating of this instructor’s teaching effectiveness compared with other college instructors you have had?
I felt the instructor did a great job giving me constructive feedback and communicating with me personally inside and outside of class.
What aspects of the instructor contributed most to your learning?
For the first question, I tend to average a higher approval rating of my overall teaching effectiveness in my lower-division Spanish courses (101, 102, 202; 4.7/5) than the higher, more intensive classes (335, 410, 498, etc.; 4/5). The difference averages out to 4.2/5. I suspect that the upper-level students are primarily concerned over the increased workload between a lower- and upper-division class.
For the second question, I averaged a respectable 4.4/5. I am proud of this statistic, given that I consistently feel that timely and constructive feedback is one of the areas where I need the most improvement. I appreciate the fact that the students recognize that I am making a real effort to get their assignments back in a timely fashion and strive to provide meaningful feedback.
Finally, the last question is always open-ended. Of my students' responses, many underscore my "enthusiasm for the material" and "consistent organization" as incentives for their learning. I firmly believe that if we want students to get animated and excited about the material we teach, we need to repeatedly demonstrate to them that we, too, are animated and excited about it. I try to remain as upbeat as possible in my lectures, something I feel the students have noticed. As per my personal organization, I admittedly do not teach well without a daily lesson plan that details the content and activities for a given class. Once I have the basic shape of the day's lecture established, I like to tinker with activities and exercises until I find one that functions well with a group of students.
Copies of the evaluations from a specific course/semester are available upon request.
university of california, irvine (2008-2015)
At the end of each quarter, the instructors at UC Irvine were assessed on a scale of 0-7 with thirteen questions answered by the students of the course. The questions asked are as follows:
Enjoys and is enthusiastic about teaching.
Has helped me feel more comfortable when speaking Spanish in class.
Uses English in class only when absolutely necessary.
Is helpful when a student or the class does not understand.
Is organized and always well-prepared.
Is always in command of the class.
Presents grammar points clearly.
Returns assignment and exams the following class period.
Prepares me well for exams.
Makes me want to continue learning Spanish.
Does not show favoritism.
Is accessible during office hours, or by appointment.
What is your overall rating of the Instructor?
I always paid careful attention to the feedback provided by my students and did my best to improve as an instructor. In the chart to the right, I have compiled the mean of the results of my Spanish teaching experience at UC Irvine between 2009 and 2012.
My overall average as an instructor was 6.45 (out of 7). As you can tell from my data, I have progressively improved, improvement I attribute to the careful attention I pay to my class evaluations. The lone irregular quarter (winter 2011) I averaged 5.7, a high score, albeit not as respectable as my usual teaching standard. I attribute its irregularity to the rigors of the quarter; I was preparing in earnest for my exams and was not able to divide my attention between my exam work and my teaching. A special insight comes from one of my students from my spring 2011 Spanish 1C course: “I had Profe. Blanco last quarter, too, but didn’t enjoy the class half as much as I did this quarter. The difference in his teaching style feels like night and day, considering how much more comfortable I felt this quarter thanks to his encouragement and enthusiasm.” As you can see, I rebounded the following quarters and made certain to learn from my mistakes.
Some of the areas where I have been most applauded are my enthusiasm, my organization, and my helpful assistance. One student from my fall 2009 Spanish 1B course comments, “[h]e is completely enthusiastic and well-educated in the field of Spanish. A ‘real’ strength would be his constant energy and passion for the material.” Another student from my spring 2011 course remarks, “[h]e is always prepared with his own activities and powerpoint lectures which are helpful in learning. It shows that he has spent a lot of time planning lessons and material. [. . .] He creates a great learning environment where I feel comfortable in the small classroom setting and assures us that it is okay to make mistakes.” Finally, a student from my winter 2012 Spanish 1A confirms, “I am not afraid to speak in class or to participate with my partner because I know that if I get something wrong, he’ll kindly correct me in a way that allows me to learn but doesn’t humiliate me. He makes learning Spanish fun.” Comments such as these abound in my evaluations.
Summer sessions are evaluated by different questions than those used during the quarter. For the two summer sessions that I taught–daily, fast-paced, 3-hours-per-day classes–, I averaged an impressive 8.88 (out of 9). The ten questions by which I was evaluated include:
The course instructor shows enthusiasm for and is interested in the subject.
The course instructor stimulates your interest in the subject.
The course instructor meets stated objectives of the course.
The course instructor is accessible and responsive.
The course instructor creates an open and fair learning environment.
The course instructor encourages students to think in this course.
The course instructor’s presentations and explanations of concepts were clear.
Assignments and exams covered important aspects of the course.
What overall evaluation would you give this instructor?
What overall evaluation would you give this course?
Again, my results demonstrate that I excelled in enthusiasm and technique. One student from my 2012 Spanish 1BC course comments, “[h]e is very dedicated, he truly wants his students to excel, and he is always finding ways to keep the course interesting.” Another student from my 2013 Spanish 1AB class shares, “he teaches the material is such an understandable manner in a safe environment.”
After I passed my qualifying exams (June 2012), I received a year-long scholarship to prepare to write and begin my dissertation. I resumed teaching a Humanities Core Course, UCI’s flagship undergraduate introduction to the Humanities, as a Teaching Associate in fall 2013.
In my Humanities Core course, I was evaluated by different questions than those used for my Spanish classes. During my first three quarters as a Teaching Associate, I averaged an 86% approval rate (6 out of 7). The nine questions and comments by which I was evaluated include:
How would you rate the effort that you put into Humanities Core Course this quarter, including reading, writing papers, and discussion?
How would you evaluate your section leader’s enthusiasm for the subject and dedication to your learning?
How well did your section leader help you to understand the reading?
How well did your section leader help you to understand the lectures?
How well did your section leader foster open and intelligent discussion in class?
How well did your section leader help you improve your writing skills?
Please comment on the kind of writing instruction offered by your instructor during the drafting process (from prewriting to final draft).
What is your overall estimate of the quality of your section leader?
Please offer comments evaluating your section leader as an instructor.
In these evaluations, my students focused on my dedication and teaching ability. One student from my fall class comments, “[h]e was very dedicated to helping us understand the material, and he would go into detailed explanations if we ever had any hazy understandings of the lectures or concepts.” Another student from my winter class shares, “[a]fter having [him] for 3 consecutive quarters, I can say that my way of thinking, speaking, and my writing skills have improved greatly.”
brigham young university
While at Brigham Young University, I taught up to two grammar and conversation based classes each semester. My main source of evaluations were my students, who were provided the opportunity to evaluate each course at the end of a given semester. As an upper-division undergraduate and newly-minted graduate student, these courses represented a chance for me to gain experience teaching Spanish and to begin to develop my pedagogical materials.
Each class was assessed on a scale of 0-8, ranging from the following categories:
Materials and activities effective
Evaluations good measure of learning
Grading procedures fair
Intellectual skills developed
Hours spent in class
Valuable time in class
Hours spent outside of class
Valuable time outside of class
Interest in student learning
Opportunities to get help
Active student involvement
Responded to students respectfully
Explained concepts effectively
Integrates gospel into concept
Contributed to BYU aims
Regarding numbers 9, 21, and 22, Brigham Young University is directly affiliated with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons). As such, certain spiritual expectations were set for each class.
For the second category, "Overall instructor," I averaged a score of 7.19 (of 8).
Each evaluation also gave the students the chance to provide some comments on the overall course and indicate ways for me to improve as an instructor. Most notably, students recognized my enthusiasm and preparation for each course. In my fall 2005 Spanish 101 course, for example, a student remarked, "Prof. White was one of the hardest working professors I have ever had. He came to class prepared each day with a ton of organized material. He provided activities and exercises that made learning enjoyable and effective." Another student in my fall 2006 Spanish 105 class mentioned that, "Professor Blanco was great! He was very enthusiastic about the subject and helped me to have a desire to learn. He was very animated when he taught and made class a joy to go to. Especially since it was every day!" Responses such as these abound in my class evaluations from BYU.