You are on page 1of 3

Rachel Rys

Writing 501
Professor Johnson
12 December 2015
WRIT 501 Teaching Philosophy Statement
I begin each quarter with the following statement: If you leave this course with more
questions than answers, this class has been successful. Inevitably, the students laugh, unsure
whether this is a serious statement. They quickly learn that it is. My teaching style revolves
around the reciprocal practice of questioning. I pose hundreds of questions in the classroom each
week and answer very few. By emphasizing questions rather than answers, I encourage students
to recognize both learning and writing as partial and ongoing processes. In order to understand
and fulfil different rhetorical tasks, students must be able to ask questions of the course texts and
assignments, andmost importantlyof themselves as students and writers. I believe that my
role as a writing instructor is to support students through this process by creating a supportive
and rigorous environment in which to read and write. This belief is informed by the following
pedagogical commitments:
1. Reflection and metacognition are essential to intellectual work.
How did I come to this idea? Why did I approach this problem in this way? How can I listen,
share knowledge, and learn most effectively? When students learn to reflect on the steps that they
take to complete an assignment, they are able to demystify their cognition and draw critical
connections between their process and their product (Yancey 1998, Taczak 2015, Tinberg 2015).
By asking students to articulate how they came to an answer or why they approached a writing
task in a particular way, I can push them to become aware of the knowledge and skills that they

Rys 2
already possess about the worldas well as the areas in which they can still stand to grow. Such
thinking about thinking prepares students to undertake even more complicated rhetorical tasks,
even in contexts far from the writing classroom (Berthoff 1997). For this reason, I seek to teach
lessons about writing that extend far beyond essays and exams, shaping students cognitive
processes, their ability to make connections, and importantly, their confidence in developing
patterns and strategies for undertaking intellectual work.
2. Learning to read, write, and think is necessary for justice
What stories are told and why? What assumptions underlie the texts I read and write? How do
these texts resonate with or diverge from my own experiences and beliefs? As Linda AdlerKassner and Heidi Estrem (2007) argue, the way that we read is never neutral. Nor is the way we
write. When students learn to read critically, they learn how to identify the epistemologies and
values of different authors and fields. When they learn to write critically, they learn to position
their own ideas, feelings, and experiences in relation to others. The importance of reading,
writing, and analytic skills are shared between Writing Studies and my home discipline of
Feminist Studies. These tasks take on particular importance when teaching underrepresented or
marginalized students, as writing offers a way for students to articulate their identities and voice
the experiences that are often left out of the canon. As writing shapes and is shaped by the
ideologies and beliefs of the world around us, learning to write and analyze represent an essential
part of identity formation (Roozen 2015, Scott 2015).
My commitment to questioning as a pedagogical tool also means that my own teaching
practices are in constant consideration and revision. As a result, I seek to incorporate new
understandings and perspectives into my syllabi, assignments, and interactions with students and

Rys 3
colleagues. By making this constant reflection and revision visible to my students, I hope also to
demonstrate how the process of learning through writing is never fully complete.

Works Cited
Adler-Kassner, Linda and Heidi Estrem. 2007. Reading Practices in the Writing Classroom.
Writing Program Administration 31 (1-2): 35-47.
Berthoff. Ann E. 1978. Forming, Thinking, Writing: The Composing Imagination. Hayden:
Rochelle Park, NJ.
Roozen, Kevin. 2015. Writing is Linked to Identity. In Naming What We Know, eds. Linda
Addler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.
Scott, Tony. 2015. Writing Enacts and Creates Identities and Ideologies. In Naming What We
Know, eds. Linda Addler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle. Boulder, CO: University Press
of Colorado.
Taczak, Kara. 2015. Reflection is Critical in the Development of Writers. In Naming What We
Know, eds. Linda Addler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle. Boulder, CO: University Press
of Colorado.
Tinberg, Howard. 2015. Metacognition is Not Cognition. In Naming What We Know, eds.
Linda Addler-Kassner and Elizabeth Wardle. Boulder, CO: University Press of Colorado.
Yancey, Kathleen Blake. 1998. Reflection in the Writing Classroom. Logan: Utah State Press.