Teaching Philosophy

Goals and Mission

My purpose as a teacher of writing is to engage students in an interactive and inclusive space that enables them to learn new skills, grow and develop as writers.

My main teaching goals are to foster an environment of diverse acceptance and invite students to develop their own process for writing and learning new strategies for crafting compositions to meet specific goals and audiences. I want my class to impact the way students view themselves as individuals with significant ideas to contribute to existing conversations. Through classroom activities, they will learn strategies to communicate their learning through writing and express new ideas.

Some of the concepts and theories that inform my teaching are the idea that each student has a unique set of skills which they bring with them into the classroom. One of the best ways to promote transfer is to tap into these skills and previous experiences to create links to future tasks students will encounter both inside and outside school. In my classroom, I intend to create an interactive environment that allows students to discuss and participate in learning new concepts through group work and individual reflection. Throughout the process of project work, students will encounter many modes of learning which extend beyond the classic lecture model. These will include multi-modal methods, group-based projects and discussions, opportunities for individual reflection and workshop-style editing and revision strategies.

One of my key goals is getting and keeping student engagement, through using topics that speak to students, finding ways to relate to them and encouraging the development of individuality and the creation of voice. Also, creating a positive environment fosters growth and development rather than a focus on correction and judgment. Work-shopping papers in class and offering student conferences can help build a more comfortable rapport and I believe using a check, check minus, check plus grading system throughout the semester followed by a cumulative portfolio can help create a focus on growth and development as well.

Teacher-Student Roles

I am highly influenced by the concept of teacher as co-learner rather than expert. While I have much to teach, I also have much to learn.

I feel that the role of the teacher is to introduce students to new methods of creating text, and then allowing students to explore those methods to determine what process works best for them as individuals. Although I intend to guide student work, I want them to take ownership as well. Previous experiences of teaching to a textbook have led to dull lessons, bored students and unsatisfactory stagnation in my student work. While textbooks can prove as an invaluable resource, bringing in texts of interest to students, encouraging group interaction and inviting multi-modality into assignments can create a more interactive environment.

As a teacher, I see myself more as an intermediary between students and the knowledge and experiences they need to grow as scholarly writers. The knowledge is available to them, they just need someone to help them on their journey of development. By fostering an engaging environment in which students can interact with texts, each other, and through writing, the classroom becomes a learning and writing workshop where we pursue the common goal of improving our writing and learning processes.

As I learn more about different teaching methods and strategies, I see myself integrating these into the classroom. Not every method works in every situation, and in some cases, some methods may be discarded in favor of others which prove more effective. I think teachers change and grow over time through their interactions with students, other teachers and the research community.

Responding and Evaluating

There are several aspects that make a piece of writing inherently successful.

First of all, is there a point made and is that point backed up with supporting details? Does the writing include an introduction and a conclusion? Of course, this is the standard for a coherent essay, but it would not necessarily apply to a creative work in the same way. As we move toward teaching for transfer and interdisciplinary classrooms, genre plays a greater role in determining if writing is effective. A student who understands the rhetorical situation of their writing and has embraced a personal voice will do well in most classrooms.

Although we often teach or have learned there is a specific regimen to follow in the creation of a text, most writers develop their own process which may in turn change with the type of writing being done. When it comes to process, making students aware of process can prove enlightening and encouraging multiple ways of completing the same tasks can also prove beneficial.

I have learned much about different philosophies in responding to and evaluating students, and the general consensus seems to be that less is more. If we nitpick and focus only on the minutia of grammar and mechanics, students often miss the overall themes and purpose of their writing. Instead, we as teachers should spend more time determining if student writing is effective and focus instead on global errors which impact overall understanding in a text.

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