Teaching of Writing Philosophy
Writing is an essential and a core part of education. Everything builds on the skills and ability to express opinions, ideas, and knowledge through words and writing. Being a graduate student and a teacher, I’m surrounded by different views of writing and various ideas on how the writing experience should function. I’m taught theories and then I’m able to test them and see them in practice within the classroom. Through these dual experiences, I’ve been able to formulate my own beliefs by looking at what has worked for myself and my students, as well as what hasn’t been as successful in my own teaching and writing. My philosophy of writing comes down to this: writing is essential to education and should be taught as a process that always focuses on the student and student learning.
In my own educational experience, I haven’t always had positive feedback with my writing. I can remember getting back papers that were bloodied with red pen marks. I found those instances frustrating because those red marks weren’t always followed by ways in which I could improve my paper or ways that my paper was good. In those instances, I just crumpled up my paper and shoved it down into the depths of my oversized book bag, never to be seen again. I didn’t learn from my mistakes. They were just frustrating experiences that I pushed aside. As I teach, I always keep that image in my mind- the image of one of those crumpled pieces of paper with red ink stains all over them. I never want to be that writing instructor- the one that doesn’t explain or assist in the writing process. I’m sure that there were good aspects to those papers, but those traits were never pointed out to me. No one ever took the time to help me. As I teach, I keep those hurtful experiences with the red pen in the back of my mind. I strive to give my students positive and encouraging feedback, while still giving them constructive feedback. I want my students to take ownership of their work, which is something I don’t feel like I ever had as a student.
In past teaching experiences, I’ve really focused on giving my students the tools to do more critical thinking and abstract writing in and outside of the classroom. In doing this, I feel like I’m helping my students to take ownership of their own work. I wanted my students to read texts and be able to relate and respond to them: Pride and Prejudice, The Last of the Mohicans, Macbeth, The Lord of the Flies, and The Crucible. I knew that many of these texts were complex and could be difficult for my students but I wanted to push them. I had my students do self-discovery projects, reflections, essays, and other activities to help them learn about the characters and the storylines. With all of the texts, we’d create huge drawings of the characters and then we’d write character attributes around the figure. As character traits developed or changed in the novel, we’d correct the picture. In ensuring that my students understood the characters, I knew that it would be easier for them to relate and reflect. I didn’t want them to just regurgitate what I had taught them- I wanted them to write about how the texts and material mattered to them. I wanted them to learn.
In ensuring that education is student-centered, students can take control of their learning. I believe in creating a writing classroom environment that encourages and supports student learning and development so that students can own and direct their education. Writing and learning doesn’t matter if it doesn’t mean something to students. Meaning and connections have to made. When education matters to students, learning can occur. This can happen in any classroom.