Friday, August 31, 2007

Shutting up

Now that I am taking this composition class, I have started thinking more seriously about my teaching philosophy. Thursday’s discussion was particularly effective for me in that it caused me to think about specific teaching methods I would use in the classroom and more specifically, about teaching first year composition.

I think the most important thing I want to implement is sharing authority within the classroom. Lunsford and Glenn discuss the importance of letting students’ voices be heard in order to develop their learning abilities. From the Take 20 video, I believe one teacher referred to it as the teacher “shutting up” sometimes. Writing is something that is nearly impossible to simply lecture and expect someone to learn. It must be hands on activity, and that activity must be shared. I believe fully in the value to be found when students begin to learn how to learn. As we discussed in class, it begins with challenging teachers who are willing to let students struggle through an assignment in order to develop their own abilities to think critically.

In addition, I think it is important to know the students’ “cultural history,” as discussed in Bedford/St. Martin’s essay. A teacher must know the cultural influences that have played a role in a student’s life in order to understand the biases towards writing he or she might have. Students’ attitudes towards writing affect their ability as well as their effort to write. By knowing the ethnic, socioeconomic, etc., background of a student, a teacher is better equipped to reshape (if necessary) or encourage a student toward writing.

Finally, I have to insert the “cliché” Lunsford and Glenn refer to for my final concept: making the work relevant to the student. The difficulty lies in knowing what students will find relevant; however, I believe the task is necessary. Sometimes, even letting students choose their own topics is enormously effective. Writing is personal, and it can become even valued by an uninterested student if he or she is allowed to write about his or her interests or concerns. Students will care more about their work if they feel it matters, not only to them but to others in the class as well.

That is all for now… =)