2018 Outstanding TA Award: Vani Kannan

April 30, 2018
  Vani Kannan

Congratulations to Vani Kannan, doctoral candidate in the Composition and Cultural Rhetoric program, for being awarded a 2018 Outstanding Teaching Assistant Award. Selection for the Outstanding TA award is made by a university-wide committee of faculty recognized for their teaching excellence, and is given to approximately the top 4% of all TAs campus wide.


In response to receiving this award, Vani says, "I have learned a lot about pedagogy during my time at SU, and worked with some truly inspiring teachers. I appreciate that the department and Graduate School have recognized my commitment to working with students. This is a deeply challenging time for educators who are committed to social justice, and I want to recognize that many face racist, sexist, and other biases in classrooms and  teaching evaluations. I understand this award as a charge to engage my students more deeply and critically in the future."


The following are excerpts from letters nominating Vani for this award:

"I have had the pleasure of serving as Vani Kannan's teaching mentor as part of the Future Professoriate Project (FPP) for the past year and a half. As a teaching assistant and FPP Associate, Vani has had the opportunity to teach across the span of our writing curriculum, offering courses that include the college preparatory writing course (WRT 104), first-year writing (WRT 105), sophomore level research and writing (WRT 205), and an upper-division research and writing course (WRT 303). Since becoming her mentor, I have had the opportunity to conduct two observations of Vani's classes during the 2016-2017 academic year and have held multiple meetings with her to discuss her teaching and review her materials. I am impressed and inspired by her teaching, and I find her a very deserving candidate for the OTA."—Eileen E. Schell, Professor of Writing & Rhetoric, Graduate Director


"I admire how Vani continues to seek out opportunities for developing new approaches to writing pedagogy. While in my composition class, she expressed an interest in learning more about an advanced undergraduate course I was teaching on editing and publishing. It was there that I first observed how she connected with students, listened to them, and responded in ways that were always respectful and encouraging. Vani went on to develop a first-rate course on multigenre pedagogy, which was a favorite among students. Recognizing that a classroom space can be transformative, Vani excels at teaching course content while building connections among students and between them and their teacher. She has worked in a wide range of teaching contexts, including writing centers."—Patrick W. Berry, Chair, Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Assistant Professor of Writing and Rhetoric


"Vani is an able writing teacher across levels, adapting her course design and classroom strategies to the needs of each student population and the distinct interests of students in each class she teaches. I have not had the opportunity to observe Vani's work in the classroom directly, but in my role as department chair I have had many opportunities to learn about Vani's skillful work with students in the classroom. I have also been impressed with the thoughtful reflections about teaching that she has shared in conversations with me and in departmental workshops, and I have had the opportunity to read her consistently glowing teaching evaluations each semester. Due to her strength as a teacher, Vani was chosen as one of a select group of graduate students who have had the opportunity to teach an upper-division course that primarily serves writing and rhetoric majors. Her WRT 303 advanced research class was a terrific success and demonstrated Van i's creativity in adapting her teaching practices to the needs of diverse student populations."—Lois Agnew, Arts and Sciences Associate Dean of Curriculum Innovation and Pedagogy, Associate Professor of Writing and Rhetoric


"I dreaded the idea of waking up every other day at 8 a.m. for a writing prerequisite, but Vani Kannan always made it a joyous time. Vani is a spunky, knowledge-hungry instructor who was the first teacher to create a comfortable class environment that helped my education. When I was a freshman, she pushed me out of my box and ultimately taught me to accept myself and my interests through my writing . . . . I truly appreciate the work and time that Vani Kannan has dedicated to Syracuse University, and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to be taught by her and to have been mentored by her outside the classroom."—Nuhami T. Mandefro, SU student


"Vani was one of the best instructors I've had at Syracuse University. She always did her best to make sure I utilized my creativity in my writing while understanding the fundamentals of making a great writing piece. Besides being a writing instructor, Vani is a very caring, sweet person. When I see her in passing, she asks me how I'm doing and tells me to send her an email and that she would love to know how things are going . . . . I have yet to meet another instructor like her. I know Vani will continue to be the best in everything she does."—Ronnette Powell, SU student