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My Teaching Philosophy on Writing Adrian Joseph Rivera

Teaching is one of the most difficult and underappreciated jobs one can undertake, it is

also extremely rewarding. One of the most frustrating aspects of teaching is that we, as

instructors, cannot control societal elements and impositions on the students lives

(socioeconomic status, family history, and the like), and how these external factors affect

students/how the students respond to them. It can be extremely disheartening to see a student

give up or settle for less than they are capable of, especially when we invest a great deal of time

and energy into them. However, we are in a unique position to either support or inhibit the

students growth as learners. It is important to realize the differences in students and see the

importance in working with them on a case-by-case basis, rather than applying one blanket

method of teaching. Students learn in different ways, and instructors should respect this and be

willing to help them understand the course content and succeed.


It is especially important to realize the impact of factors outside the classroom when

working with English Language Learners. English has become such a universal and powerful

language for commerce and communication that it has a skewed sense of importance. More than

once in the classroom, I have heard students say that English is more important than their

language, or how they wish they had been born into an English speaking community rather than

their own culture. Thus, it is a priority to keep my students apprised of how being bilingual will

open doors for them, but no language is superior to any other. Additionally, recognizing and

appreciating the effort and vulnerability which students display in an ELL context, for me, is just

as important as teaching new linguistic features. It takes courage to put oneself out there and

make mistakes, especially when one is farther along in their education.


Conversely, I have also heard many students, ESL or not, who have stated that they do

not see the value in learning how to clearly and effectively communicate in writing. Writing is

seen as a burden to them, or a class that they need to just get through in order to get on to the
classes they actually need/want to take for their degrees. As they work with this mindset, though,

they do not realize that writing and the knowledge gained from writing courses will play a role in

virtually all classes to follow and in various aspects of their chosen careers. Skills such as critical

thinking, critical reading, and analyzing problems are useful both in and out of the classroom.

Further, there are very few professional jobs which do not require written communication of

some kind, whether it is in the form of reports or memos, or even in email and other forms of

electronic communication.
I believe students learn more from incorrect answers than they do from producing the

correct answer at the start answers that are incorrect or lacking some key aspect open the door

for a collective learning experience. I can more easily work with incorrect than I can with non-

participatory, although as a more introverted student, I understand why some students may

choose not to participate in class. However, when it comes to major writing assignments,

everyone needs to complete their work, especially the major papers. For these reasons, I allow

my students to continuously revise their major papers, right up until the end of the semester.

These papers usually carry a heavy weight in the class (approximately 50-65% of the overall

course grades, in my experience as both an instructor and a student). I have seen that being able

to revise their work on a rolling basis has improved the overall quality of their writing, and by

the time their final papers come around, they do not usually need as many revisions, if they need

any at all. It is all about working with what they know and giving them the opportunity to learn

and grow as writers.


I strongly believe in appealing to my students interests and their perceptions of the world

around them, particularly in an ELL context, where conversation is already an intimidating

prospect. Therefore, I try and base class discussions and paper topics with stricter instructions for

readings around topics they already have a handle on, via day to day exposure or experience. I
believe that this can only benefit them in their practice and language acquisition, in both spoken

and written form. Also, when it comes to the major papers, I generally choose assignments that

give students a bit of leeway when it comes to selecting their topics. They can find something

that interests them, which makes writing less of a hassle and more of an exploratory, interesting

experience.
Outside the classroom, I also want to be approachable and accessible to my students. I do

not want them to be afraid of coming to me with questions or difficulties. I feel very strongly

about this because, prior to teaching, I worked at IPFWs Writing Center, consulting with

students on organization, flow, and other concerns they may have when writing. I had many

instances of students coming to me for help, but when my best advice was for them to ask their

professor for clarification, they would shy away and make excuses. In some cases, they would

even say, outright, they would not do this because the professor was unapproachable, unclear,

rude, or dismissive. I never want to be this type of professor; for this reason, I try to humanize

myself to my students I mention I am a constantly learning, I make mistakes, and I am always

available for help and advice if they need it. I do this with the knowledge that, if I am

intimidating or unapproachable in and out of class, this could have a negative impact on my

students perception of my willingness to help. All students deserve better than this, and as their

instructor, I will work to guarantee my students receive the best I have to offer.