Teaching Philosophy Statement

- fortune from Chinese buffet

I believe learning and language learning to be a social phenomenon shaping itself in the midst of our thoughts and meaningful interaction. Language not only helps us communicate, but also do the things we need to do, and be who we need to be in particular situations. In order for such vital language use and general learning to occur in the classroom, I believe that it is my paramount obligation to create a safe environment and high quality of life in the classroom. With the students using and analyzing content, ideas, and language in a comfortable atmosphere, they can begin to experiment, use, and play with their ideas and language - activities which are very often conducive to learning.

In addition, I believe that the direction of my lessons and courses are dictated by student need. Whether needs are articulated directly by students, gathered formally in an assessment, simply observed, or discovered through conversations, it is my educational responsibility to address those needs based on sound research and experience. What is more, reflecting upon my teaching decisions is critical to my philosophy in order to maximize learning through the theory-practice connection. Students’ needs, research supported theory, and my reflective teaching practice are all constantly intermingling to guide the flow of my pedagogical philosophy – with a healthy dose of intuition always playing a role.

Finally, sensitivity to my teaching context is central to my beliefs. Working with culturally and linguistically diverse students involves careful consideration of a variety of teachers, learners, goals, institutions, and cultures within a given situation. And just as the situation directs the language we use in life, so does the educational context inform the pedagogy I use in the classroom.

My philosophy is clearly evident when taking a peek into one of my writing classrooms. Working through the process of writing, students are brainstorming, discussing, and sharing their thoughts, ideas, and work throughout the stages of prewriting, writing, and revising. While the students are focusing individually, interacting in pairs, or sharing in groups, I might be indistinguishably lost among them. Or, you can find me popping in out of their zones of proximal development intervening when necessary. Students are reading different texts to incorporate into their writing – finding, interpreting, and discussing the author’s main points. Or they could be comparing their writing with a model I have provided, discussing its rhetorical features, organization, and language conventions. They are working on a balance of curriculum based assignments as well as self-directed pieces – some to share, some to be assessed, and some to keep. They might be conferencing with me in the corner about some comments I gave them on their draft, or considering some feedback from their peers. When it’s all said and done, they can be observed reflecting on the whirlwind, making sure nothing flew by unnoticed, and reminding themselves of what they have gotten out of this challenging yet rewarding process.

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