Philosophical Musings: A series of principles
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Greetings all! Great to be back thinking, writing, and discussing pedagogy.

When I think of my teaching philosophy, I tend to think of a series of principles or categories that are consistently overlapping to make some kind of cohesive whole, I hope. So I’ve attempted to outline these principles in a way that would be equally relevant in both an onsite and online course. 

Collaborative Interaction: For each course I have to say this is the core principle I work to make central to each stage of the semester’s work. I always think back to the classes I took in undergrad and grad school and remember how much I got out of group work, even if some days I wasn’t in the mood! In each class meeting I conduct, there is some form of interactive/ active learning for students to engage with. In my onsite classes, technology has been a useful tool to facilitate learning, especially with our access to chromebooks in specific classrooms. Students are able to weigh in on a prompt that I’ve posted on a shared Google doc, and then engage and interact with one another’s writing and ideas. Access points are developed and implemented, and technology helps to add variety and range. In terms of migrating this practice online, I appreciate Warnock’s suggestion that, ” . . . students can take over the conversation in a online environment perhaps even more effectively than they can with you [the instructor] present in the f2f room” (xvi). 

Relevance: Students engage more readily with class materials when they are able to connect it to their daily lived experiences in some way. For example,readings about technology can invite students into a topic that has direct relevance in their lives. Debates about dependency on technology invite students to engage in discussions that they have some degree of personal stake in. Warnock’s own discussion of the benefits and drawbacks of using online tools to teach writing provides a measured and thoughtful model for engaging with the topic of our use of and dependence on technology in our writing courses and beyond. In Charles Seife’s “The Loneliness of the Interconnected,” a reading I use in ENGL 100, he argues that “instead of exposing us to differences, the Internet actually encourages conformism and intolerance– and thus threatens basic principles that sustain a democratic society.” This would be an interesting discussion to jump into with students in an online course, especially with Warnock’s concern that so many of us have ” . . . sprinted headlong into the technological future [and] seem enthralled by digital technology to the point of risking being used by the tecnologies instead of the other way around,” echoing in our minds. 

Emphasis of connection between reading and writing: As the poet Willie Perdomo said: “There is no writing without reading. It’s the ultimate dialogue.” This goes back to my training in rhetoric and writing at SDSU, all writing is in dialogue with a larger conversation, and in response to ideas that are situated in textual artifacts of some kind. So, each writing assignment, whether low-stakes or a longer, more sustained essay is in response to some kind of text. The text can vary in type/ form, but our ideas/ writing are then in conversation with the discourse, and contextualized to make sense of audience and purpose. This can be migrated into an online situation as evidenced by Jim Sullivan’s comments on using writing prompts that favor developing an authentic audience. 

Develop connection and authentic interaction with students: I enjoy being in the classroom! I think I’ve gotten to a point in my career where I’m comfortable being myself with students, and I think this manifests well when they can see that I really do want them to do well and be successful. When students feel authentic care from teachers, it helps them feel supported and capable. Of course, this is coupled with high expectations, and academic rigor- I’m not suggesting the classroom should be devoid of formality. The idea of transitioning this online is an interesting puzzle for me. Warnock’s focus on developing an “online voice” seems especially relevant, and I appreciated his call to think about the importance of framing ourselves as an audience. Also, I really liked his suggestions of voices and roles to avoid: Unapproachable sage, apathetic drone, chum, fool, and harsh critic. 


Thanks for reading and here is a short video of my tour of CCS sample course:

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  1. Pingback: So long and thanks for all the insights! | WritingwithMachines

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