Teaching philosophy statement
In his article “The Still-Unbuilt Hacinda,” Geoffrey Sirc writes, “The architectural design for the conventional classroom has become soberly monumental, charged with the heavy burden of preserving the discursive tradition of ‘our language…the peculiar ways of knowing, selecting, evaluating, reporting, concluding, and arguing that define the discourse of our community.’ We erect temples to language…Or better, what we build are Museums” (43). In the English classroom, generations of teachers have been stuck in this space of teaching and writing as the only means of effective communication. Worse yet, the spaces in which teachers gather with their students are suspended in the archaic rhetoric of the lecture stadium.
It is my goal as an instructor of college writing and rhetoric to move past these restrictions and transfixions in a number of ways. First, by incorporating a theme of place and space studies, I work to introduce my students to a more detailed observation of the world around them. Second, in response to this rapidly changing world they are analyzing and observing, the materials I include in my classroom reflect an effort to explore and investigate new modes of communication through literacy that is not always linguistic. By including both a multi-genre and multimodal assignments, it is my goal to incorporate the kinds of communication that will be more present in my students’ lives today than the typical written essay. And third, in the classroom, I work toward a goal of promoting the personal voice outside of writing by fostering an environment that encourages active learning. While lesson planning, I am always working in ways to bridge the gap between the spectrum of participation and attention by creating situations where students must work together to achieve a goal. Through making ample opportunity for student participation with group work and peer review activities, students begin to learn from each other what they cannot as easily learn from me—how to communicate with their peers by proposing ideas to one another, explaining and backing these ideas up with evidence, and allowing room for debate.
Composition scholar Jody Shipka states, “It is important that we challenge students and that we challenge ourselves—whether this involves taking risks and trying something new or considering the various ways in which meaning (both within and beyond the academy) might be accomplished” (Alexander & Rhodes 62). In order to break the museum makeup of the composition classroom, I must first accept that this will not only be a challenge for my students, but primarily for myself. Incorporating my three goals in my classroom can be a struggle at times, and I often wonder if it would be easier to stop proposing these changes and give my students four typical writing assignments to fulfill their requirements. But if I did so, I would be playing a part in turning us all into stone where we are left to be the observed, rather than us being the observers and arguers and makers of change.
English 101: Composition I, Black Hills State University
Sections: FA 10: ENGL 101 B01, 05, & 06
English 201: Composition II, Black Hills State University
Sections: FA 19: ENGL 201 BT2
English 101: Introduction to College Writing, University of Idaho
Sections: FA 16: ENGL 101-17 & -21
English 102: College Writing and Rhetoric, University of Idaho
Sections: SP 17: ENGL 102-17, SU 17: ENGL 102-2, FA 17: ENGL 102-23 & 26, SP 18: ENGL 102-14
English 293: Beginning Nonfiction Writing, University of Idaho
Sections: FA 18: ENGL293-1, SP 19: ENGL293-1
English 523: Composition Pedagogy, Theory & Practice, University of Idaho
English 506: Composition Theory, University of Idaho
English 501: Teaching Professional Writing, University of Idaho
University of Idaho