Hi everyone! Glad to be back!
It’s difficult to distill a teaching philosophy into a set of specific principles, especially since mine overlap so much, but here are some of the key principles of teaching composition that often form the foundation of how I approach all of my assignments, class activities, and course materials:
Interactivity: This is probably my most constant and important course design philosophy, which takes the idea of a “student-centered” classroom and transforms it to consider tech-based and dynamic ways to facilitate conversation and exploration. Part of his, to me, also involves what Warnock calls “pedagogical experimentation” (xxii)—I seek to find ways to make a classroom “active” that go beyond how we usually define that term (which generally involves different forms of discussion, like Socratic seminars and think/pair/share. Though, I am doing more Socratic seminar style things this semester than usual, sitting with my students in a desk). To me, interactivity involves creating interfaces for students to interact with together—so bringing in digital tools and games to foster new ways of thinking.
Contextualized conversations: I find it important to the way I approach my pedagogy to engage students through topical conversations—by either formulating a class around a specific topic or a broader theme that can facilitate conversations about culture and identity—such as my ENGL202, which I call “The Rhetoric of Pop Culture.” Through that theme, we enter into conversations about freedom, choice, consumer desire, audience reception, and cultural representation. I also found the point Warnock quotes from Wahlstrom that “computer supported literacy that students develop may prepare them for an exploitative environment rather than protect them from it” (xx) interesting, since my ENGL100 is themed around how digital media has changed reading, writing, and thinking processes, and one of the conversations we have is about the potential oppressive exploitations embedded within digital cultures. I feel it’d be useful, then, to take some of those conversations about digitalization into an actual space of digitalization—the online classroom. Contextualized classrooms also, of course, create more buy in for students and give them more agency in understanding course concepts.
Analytical reading: I have always assigned contextualized, topical reading that in some respects can be a stretch for students—maybe requiring more attention or clarification than they are used to needing when reading. In the past, I approached this as being about exposing students to complex concepts and thought processes to expand their academic vocabulary and get them thinking about issues they normally don’t expend energy on. Increasingly, though, I am finding that an integral part of my philosophy is to have students analyze the language itself of these articles and to take the more meta-writing approach to reading that is central to a lot of composition instruction. I have always told my students to think of the articles as examples of writing, but I am not building in more activities to get students thinking about the rhetorical effects of different forms and styles of academic writing.
Understanding and Flexibility: This last one is more of an “attitude” embedded in my course design and teaching persona (to harken to that section in the Warnock reading). My teaching persona is much more personable and confident than I generally am in other social situations—so I use this to my advantage to get more one-on-on knowledge of students during group learning activities and to find common ground with students. I am comfortable with the ebbs and flows of conversation (as they get derailed and re-reailed—isn’t this the way we generally speak in our conversations outside of classes, anyways!), and so try to schedule activities that allow for that level of flexibility. I also maintain flexibility when it comes to assignments, though I am becoming more rigid on that (I’m always flexible with large assignments, such as essays, but am less so with low stakes things like reading responses).
Lastly, here is the link to my video looking at some interesting (and not great) Canvas course samples from Northwestern University: