Instructor Spotlight: Cody Krumrie

05-04-2020

Writer(s): Derek Sherman

From Purdue to Auburn and Back 

Dr. Cody Krumrie grew up in Indiana, so it seemed like an appropriate fit to pursue an undergraduate degree in pharmacy at Purdue University. Sophomore year, however, Cody switched majors to English with a concentration in literature, a switch that would lead them back to Purdue years later. Upon graduation, Cody traveled to Alabama to pursue a master’s degree in English with a concentration in medieval and renaissance literature at Auburn University, which required them to teach a sequence of two writing courses. The master’s degree provided Cody with crucial teaching experience that allowed them to take a year off from graduate school to teach general studies courses at Purdue University—Northwest.

After a year of teaching at PNW, Cody decided to pursue a PhD in English with a concentration in renaissance drama. Faculty from Cody’s undergraduate degree inspired them to make their way back to West Lafayette. Cody studies renaissance drama and its material culture from the years 1530-1600. They are passionate about renaissance drama for two reasons: 1) the performance aspect of drama; and 2) contributing to early modern studies’ research into material culture. The one question that drives Cody, in their own words, is “How do physical objects perform in text(s) to shift and create meaning?” Recently, they successfully defended their dissertation, “Dressing for the Part(s): Costume Transformations on the Early Modern English Stage.”

From teacher to mentor

When Cody is not studying renaissance drama or its material culture, we can find them in the classroom playing many roles, including teacher and mentor. Cody has had several years of teaching experiences ranging from teaching a two course writing sequence to teaching literature and composition courses online. From the years 2015 to 2019, Cody taught ICaP courses, specifically English 106 and English 108, using approaches ranging from literature to academic writing to archival research focused on Purdue. 

A difficult endeavor for Cody was making the switch from teaching writing in a two course sequence at Auburn to teaching writing in a one semester course—the only required general education writing course for Purdue students. Going from a two semester writing sequence to jamming all this content into one course would be a challenge for even the most veteran of instructors. ICaP, however, provided Cody with the flexibility to mend their curriculum in a way that spoke to their strengths and teaching philosophy. 

According to Cody, their teaching philosophy, no matter the approach or number of courses “is the belief that all students’ voices and experience are both valid and necessary to create an inclusive space.” Core to Cody’s belief is the act of making students the agents of their learning, which is why they often allow students to write about their interests, majors, or a topic they have not previously had the time to explore. 

One crucial component to Cody’s pedagogy in English 106 is conferencing, which allows students to work one-on-one or in small groups with their instructor. Conferencing is an important pedagogical approach that makes ICaP a unique writing program compared to others. When Cody taught English 108, an advanced composition course without the conference component, they realized conferences were an important part of a student’s writing education, and they missed this close connection with students and their writing.

When asked about their most important assignment(s), Cody believes that a narrative and the annotated bibliography are pivotal for students. The narrative is an assignment that is usually assigned first. Cody states, “I want students to feel free early on in the semester to share things they are interested in with me.” On the other hand, the annotated bibliography is an important assignment in engrossing students with academic research and writing. More specifically, Cody suggests, the annotated bibliography is “A way [for students] to think about collecting, organizing, and thinking about what they have to say. They need to feel comfortable reading academic sources and analyzing why they are relevant to their point of view.”

Cody’s teaching experiences have transferred well into their role as an assistant mentor for ICaP during the 2019-2020 academic year. Assistant mentors play an important role in ICaP as they bring experience and a graduate student perspective to teaching writing for the first time at Purdue. According to Dr. Richard Johnson-Sheehan, Cody’s mentor group leader, “They have been very helpful. The members of our mentor group often go to them when they are trying to sort out problems. They are a graduate student who has ‘been there before.’” Dr. Johnson-Sheehan also stated, “They have always been helpful as the experienced hand who has taught for years. But, they have been incredibly helpful with our pivot to online classes due to Covid-19. Since they have taught online courses themself, they have been able to show our mentor group online techniques and approaches that I didn’t know about.” 

Although Cody’s official title is assistant mentor, they like to think of themself as more of a cheerleader than anything else: “I share my experiences with them. Essentially, I am their cheerleader. If you need help, I am here.” Cody also helps new instructors with assignment design, teaching portfolios, and their future goals. “They’re newer instructors but they have adjusted quickly and I have total faith in their abilities,” Cody states.

Because of Cody’s experience with teaching and role as a mentor, I asked them what advice they would give a new teacher. First, “Prepare, but don’t over prepare,” states Cody. They added, “you may schedule X minutes doing this, but that’s not how life works. You need to have skeletons for your lessons and allow yourself some wiggle room. Also, be willing to take extra time with students and get them excited about things.” 

When it comes to grading, one of the most daunting things for a new teacher, Cody states, “Just do it and NEVER tell students you will have grades back by a specific date.” For new instructors who are also new graduate students, Cody’s advice comes from years of experience as both a graduate student and teaching assistant.

All instructors, regardless of years taught, always have something more to learn. Cody states, “Working in ICaP has made me a better teacher because I have taught in-person and online courses. It’s also given me new ways to think. My teaching philosophy has developed significantly.” Cody focused on the change from thinking of writing courses as a lecture-based to one that needs to inspire students through hands-on activities in the classroom. 

Last, but not least, Cody believes that their time in ICaP has taught them that time management and patience are key to a successful classroom and writing program. This is especially true when Cody states, “I try to break students of the ‘do what the teacher wants me to do’ mindset and move into a ‘what do you think’ mindset.” 

Cody’s tenure in ICaP has brought them a newfound appreciation for writing program administration and the work that goes into maintaining a writing program. The assistant mentor role provided Cody with a behind the scenes look and they state, “It’s insane how much work goes into ICaP from syllabus review through assessment.” Because of the many roles Cody has played, they are well-suited and prepared to wear many hats in their future endeavors.  Cody’s consistent drive to try out new roles is what makes their involvement in ICaP so special for new instructors and students alike.

Last Updated: May 4, 2020 4:57 PM

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