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Philosophy of Teaching

 

 

 In attempting to put my teaching philosophy on paper, I considered four primary questions: What are my objectives; what means should I use to achieve those objectives; how will the extent of the achievement be measured, and why.

 


  1. Objectives. It is important students learn the fundamental content of the course, but it is also important to foster critical thinking and acquire lifelong skills. It is necessary to delineate my own area of responsibility as compared to my students' responsibilities. It is necessary to ask if there are shortcomings and/or unmet needs in the students' education, and to determine how these shortcomings and needs should be met. I believe it is important that students understand the widespread application of English and its importance to their lives both now and in the future. If a skill or knowledge is recognized as having personal importance, a student is more willing to put forth the effort to acquire that knowledge and develop the skill. I believe students should become more self-sufficient as the class progresses. They should develop life-long learning skills and also develop a life-long curiosity for discovering more about the subject.

     

  2. What methods should be implemented to achieve the set objectives? I choose methods to conform to goals set, reflecting the needs of the students and the department. I have used several different means to ensure my students are ready to pass my class as well as be ready to successfully face future classes. I choose readings that I feel my students will be receptive to and which will mesh with the relevant exercise. For example, when the assignment was to analyze a poem, I included song lyrics as well, and my students were much more receptive to popular lyrics than they were to Shelley or Wordsworth. Before they were given the assignment there was much aversion on their part to anything poetical; in the end, they were willing to admit there were not many differences in poetry and song lyrics and they took an actual interest in the task. Many of the students not only found it less painful than they had expected but actually found it enjoyable. I lectured infrequently and on what I recognized to be trouble spots for the students. I felt students would be better served to actively participate in writing and debate than listening to descriptions of how they should write or effectively argue their point. I try to integrate several different methods in the classroom to accommodate the various learning styles of students: short lecture, individual writing, class discussion, peer review, and small group work. I feel all students should contribute to the class, regardless of their perceived strengths or weaknesses. I use objective tests, essays, essay exams and weekly journal entries. I make sample papers accessible to my students so they may have examples with which they may compare their own work. We analyze examples of poor, adequate and superior works, then discuss them to determine why the papers were given the grade they received. I try to acquaint the students with the various reference and library materials available and how they may be utilized in their work. For older students, computer-mediated communication seems to be quite effective. I like to assign research papers that explore issues of importance to the students themselves and their community and allow them to see the effectiveness of the assignment. I also try to implement assignments whereby the student may see the results of their work in real life, such as writing a letter to the editor, or to a chamber of commerce, or to a local business. I want to see my students develop as critical thinkers. As a constructivist, I want my students to become active learners, with a discriminating look at the world. I like to engage my students in dialogue, in the Socratic method. I try to present the assignments, lectures and lessons in a logical and clear fashion.

     

  3. To what degree? How should effectiveness be measured? Although I personally dislike using a standardized form of grading for English, I regretfully admit it is necessary in our system. I like for my students to revise several times and recognize their improvement on their own. Therefore, I don't give final grades until the paper has been revised at least three times. I ensure my students are familiar with the grading rubric and with the grading system set forth in the syllabus. Since I taught a remedial English class, the final exam determined whether the student passed the class or not, so I made sure they realized what would be expected of them on the final test and arranged my lectures and assignments to reflect those needs. I ask myself what the students should know and be able to do at the end of the year, and then I use that information to design the class content to achieve those ends. They should mature during my class and leave being able to carry out tasks they were previously unable to do. I maintain high, but not unattainable expectations in class.

     

  4. Why? Students should develop useful skills. I think it is important that our future generation of American citizens can think for themselves and not automatically buy into what is an ever-increasing nation of sound bites. Commercialization has touched every aspect of our society, and I believe it is important for my students to be able to analyze what is being said so that they will be able to make informed choices in the world. Our society is also rapidly putting more and more emphasis on communication and information, and this colossal amount of information available at our fingertips forces us to continuously make choices as to what information is important is what is not, as well as to be able to present our own information in such a way that it will be deemed worthy to be considered. Quality analytical skills and writing ability with undoubtedly be important skills in the future job market.


 

I have passion for my subject and I think I communicate that effectively to my students. I do my utmost to respect and treat my students with fairness, without appearing indecisive or weak. I believe learning involves not memorization, but active thinking. I like to encourage learning on different levels, such as a basic, fact-oriented level (what is a noun) and a more complex level where problem-solving and critical thinking skills are developed. Class should be challenging and fun. I believe it is important a teacher should have a sense of humor, but maintain a sense of dignity and authority. S/he should recognize the individuality of the student and remain as flexible as possible in regards to class content and scheduling.

 


As the old saying goes: a mediocre teacher tells, a good one explains, a superior one shows, and a great one inspires.

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