Updated Teaching Philosophy

My view of teaching has drastically changed over the course of the semester. When it was mentioned at the beginning of the semester that the threshold concepts would become a huge part of the way I conceptualized and thought about teaching, I was in disbelief. However, the threshold concepts, along with the other readings and my work in the writing center, have taught me about what I value in teaching. In my first post I talked about my belief that there are no “good” writers, only effective writers. I still believe that sentiment. However, at that point in time, I didn’t really consider myself a professional writer, and was not sure how I would teach others what I know about writing–that we are all learning and growing. I had the right idea in the beginning, but I didn’t have the confidence behind it or the know-how to relay this message to FYC students.

My teaching philosophy currently is the following: everyone is a capable writer. Writing is difficult and requires a lot of time and practice. I know how stressful the process of writing can be and hope to be a supportive voice in the “storm” of writing. I really resonated with the notion that writing is a continual learning and growing process. Especially the related notion that writing is a process in which you learn what you (the writer) believes and understands as you continue to write. Another crucial process in this is the reflective process. It isn’t so important that students correctly execute a skill properly, as it is important that they understand “why” they are doing a certain task and the effect is has on their writing.

In my own writing, I have always seen great improvement from collaborative practices, specifically workshops. I will try to introduce this into my classroom to help encourage students to objectively look at and talk about their writing and how to critically analyze peers’ writings. This idea is highlighted specifically in my workshop post when I talked about how failing and workshopping helps writers conceptualize what “works” in their writing or what doesn’t “work” in their writing.

As many people have touched on this semester, identity is a concept that has really resonated in your cohort and has been something that I focused on when thinking about finding my beliefs and voice in writing. When I write, I am talking about what I know, and using what I know to (in my case) create a story that evokes emotion. This is what I identify as “effective” writing– something that makes the reader feel something. In poetry, for example, it doesn’t have to be the exact feeling that I (or any writer) intended but could be any feeling gained from the writing.

I firmly believe that writing should be de-bunked from a “scary” practice to one that is informative, exploratory, and fun. My teaching philosophy revolves around creating a “collaborative safe space” where students will be able to explore their topics, express themselves, and learn about themselves through the act of writing. It is my hope that I can also collaborate with students to create a semi-democratic atmosphere, so they are engaged and part of the process. In this regard, the students will have autonomy and input on some of the content forms that they will create in my course. My grading style will hopefully reflect this with a more holistic grading approach that will include cognitive reflections to help students further explore the “why” in what they are doing. It is my goal to relate to students on a level where they understand that I am also going along a writing journey with them and I am a resource rather than a gatekeeper. I hope that my experience as an undergraduate and graduate student will prepare me to meet students on their level, treat them like adults, and allow them to be autonomous while completing the critical assignments. I believe that it is important to make mistakes and revise, so there will be a huge emphasis on revision, discussion, and reflection.

As I have become more confident in my writing abilities, I am learning what encourages me to continue to write. I get inspired by the freedom in writing. In my case, it is poetry, and I am inspired when I read other poets who play with different concepts and form. I believe that this will be a fundamental element in my teaching—learning through reading and learning through doing (trial and error). Something that my teacher mentor, Christopher Martin, mentioned in our meeting was that his class theme loosely revolves around the concept of joy. It is this idea that keeps students engaged because they are thinking about their life and how what they are learning in school applies to other facets of their life. I also noticed in his syllabus that Professor Martin encourages students to create writing in many different forms. In class Kim Haimes-Korn talks a lot about multi-modal content and trying to create writing in different forms…especially with assignments like “radical revision”. I hope to incorporate this into my course to not only give students autonomy and ownership over their work, but also to allow them to work in mediums and forms that they are interested in or pertain to their major.

My process in arranging my assignments will be scaffolding and building upon each other. I hope to create a natural progression of assignments that makes students feel comfortable writing in the college environment.

Here are the basic cornerstones that I will build my teaching philosophy from:

  • There is always more to learn
  • We are all here to guide and encourage you through your writing journey
  • This is a safe and respectful space
  • Engagement is key
  • There is value in your thoughts and experiences

I believe that the purpose of education is to share knowledge and grow. It is my purpose to foster an environment were students can learn more about the world and themselves through the act of writing. Students work best by doing, so the emphasis on autonomy that I hold will be a big focus throughout the semester. And lastly, the most important notion that I want to impart on students is “we can only do what we can do.” I know that college is a stressful time, but I do not want my class to be an added stressor. I will focus on positive reinforcement to make this transition into college an easy one. I want to emphasize that we are all here to learn and work together.