Brandon Sams


Office:203 Ross
527 Farm House Ln.
Ames IA


Courses I am Teaching

ENGL 397: Theory and Practice of Teaching Writing in the Secondary School
ENGL 521: The Teaching of Literature and the Literature Curriculum
ENGL 417: Student Teaching Internship in English Education


Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Education
M.A., Vanderbilt University, English Education
B.A., Baylor University, Mathematics, English

Research Areas

Pre-service English Teacher Education, Contemplative Pedagogy, Teacher Identity Development, Curriculum Studies, Social Justice-Oriented Teacher Education

About My Teaching

I enjoy working with graduate students in English and literacy education to help them create, conduct, and use research to make our schools more thoughtful places where students can flourish. A good bit of my teaching and mentoring time is devoted to undergraduate education, particularly to teaching English methods courses and supervising and mentoring interns in the field. In the interest of helping my students think like teachers themselves, I make my thinking as a teacher visible. I try to design courses and assignments that invite students to develop teacher identities in a supportive community of practice. Regardless of the course, I ask students to critically apply what they’re learning and who they’re becoming as a teacher to their future classrooms.

How I Came to Teach what I Teach

A David Whyte poem beautifully renders part of what I hope to accomplish with students. “What you can plan is too small for you to live,” he writes. “What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough / for the vitality hidden in your sleep.” I love teaching because of the unexpected discoveries that are possible when intelligent, diverse people read, talk, and write together. I have found, like many teachers, that questions and insights from students bring a richness to our classrooms that I could not possibly have planned. This keeps me coming back.

Recent Publications

Sams, B. (in press). How close is too close? The ethics of close reading and neoliberal education reform. In S. Hochstetler (Ed.), Re-forming Literacy Education: History, Effects, Advocacy. New York: Routledge.

Sams, B. (in press). Pedagogy, naked and belated: Disappointment as curriculum inquiry. In K. Strom (Ed.), Decentering the Researcher-Subject in Intimate Scholarship: Complex, Materialist, and Posthuman Methodological Perspectives.

Cook, M. P., & Sams, B. (in press, 2018). A different kind of sponsorship: The influence of graphic narrative composing on ELA pre-service teachers’ perceptions of writing and literacy instruction. The Journal of Language & Literacy Education.

Sams, B., & Crippen, M. (2018). Purposeful discomfort: Teaching empathy through American Born Chinese. Ohio Journal of English Language Arts, 57(2), 29-34.

Sams, B., & Dyches, J. (2017). Is this reflection? Examining reflective discourse in teacher education standards and performance assessments. The SoJo Journal: Educational Foundations and Social Justice Education, 2(1), 75-85.

Current Research

I’ve been interested in an ordinary question for a long time: how do teachers read literary texts as they prepare to teach them? I’m fascinated by the relationship between a teacher’s private reading – potentially full of affective intensity – and the demands of public teaching, particularly the economies of accountability that shape teachers’ reading and work. I’ll be trying to get a book out on this topic as soon as I can.

Outside of the University

I enjoy spending time with my wife, Lesley, and our two dogs, Daisy and Beaux.