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Taylor Carlic English Education Teaching Philosophy
When I think of an English classroom, I like to think of the teacher and the students as a band. In this band you are going to have a front man, the teacher, and the students who make up the rest of the band. For a band to be successful there has to be cooperation between the members. The band works together to become a complete unit. Bands who do not work together fall apart and do not succeed; much like how a classroom will fall apart if the students and teacher cannot work together. In this cooperative classroom, learning occurs on both sides. For this learning to bud, the teacher and students have to respect each other. The teacher has to respect the opinions of the students and the students have to respect the teacher. This respect begins to build a trust that allows a classroom to function. When this trust is made between teacher and students, as well as students to students, a student-centered classroom can begin to take form. In a band, if a member is afraid to speak up about a performance or about a song that they should try to play the band begins to fail. scenario in a student is afraid discussion or in student is going discussion and students have to This is the same classroom, if a to speak up during group work; the to be hindering the group work. The work together with
the teachers help to conduct a learning atmosphere. Robert Beach says that “one problem with [student centered learning] is that it leaves the responsibility for learning up to the student” (7). This becomes a problem when the “band” begins to fall apart; however, when the students work together they will begin to “learn through participation in social contexts or communities”
(Beach 7). Making the classroom feel like a community rather than the teacher preaching to the students is going to be essential for cooperative learning to take place. If the students are not comfortable talking about the texts they read, activities will have to be done to help jumpstart a community. Socio-Cultural learning also helps create this “band-like” feel to a classroom. In this environment the students are forced to learn through each other. As a teacher my job is going “to socialize them into membership into this community – to show them what it is like to be the kind of person who values participation in a literary community” (Beach 8). Acting like a tourguide to literature is essential for this teaching practice to work. Teaching in a socio-cultural classroom will allow me to guide my students through a piece of literature; then let them take the reins, and work with each other to create their own interpretations and ideas about a text. Using the socio-cultural and student-centered approaches allows the students to take control and become the front-man of the band. Having this community will produce some great learning between students and teacher, much like when a band works together they can produce some great music. Teaching literary canon is never going to go away, and students are hard-pressed to enjoy these texts. This is why as teacher I want to be able to engage the students in the canon texts with the promise to read a “relative” modern text. Approaching literary canon seems to be an aspect of English literature that teachers are looking to pass over. Although it is tempting to replace older texts with new ones, the students need to experience the timeless themes that the canon possesses. When the students become accustomed to engaging with these themes, it will become easier to recognize the same themes in modern texts. Reading the canon texts also allow students to “track the history of our aesthetic judgments” (Beach 76). These older texts allow the
students to enter a portal to a different time and experience that time without living in it. Being able to reflect and learn from the past are important aspects of teaching books from the literary canon. Although it is important to teach these texts, it is also important to maintain the students’ willingness to read, and this is where modern texts come in. The image of the cannon blasting readers into the modern texts helps to incorporate canon with these texts. While a book like Catcher in the Rye may engage students, it may be hard for them to relate to Holden Caulfield. Students would be more likely to relate to a character like Bone from Rule of the Bone. The themes are similar in the two books, but the times in which they were written will appeal to different lifestyles. It is going to be important for me and my students that we work with both of these types of texts. Studying canon and modern texts together allows the students to make text to text, text to self, and text to world assertions. Studying both of these texts allows the students to gain perspective into two different times. Although the times may be different, they may find out that the themes in the books are universal. A teacher cannot simply rely on teaching literary canon, or teaching modern literature. It is important for me to have a mix of both. Teaching the classics helps to improve readings on modern literature, and reading modern literature helps to engage in canon literature. The students can begin to talk about text to text as well as inferring about the world as a whole. Building this bridge from classics to modern texts is going to be something that my students will
do a lot of. Modern texts have their place in classrooms, but students need to be exposed to the literary canon as well. Engaging students in reading is an aspect of teaching English that many teachers struggle with. I hope to implement a variety of assessment techniques to keep the class fresh and interesting. Implementing different techniques will help to keep the students from getting sucked into a routine where they are doing the same thing every day. Switching up the dynamics of the classroom will also help me as a teacher know what works with students and what does not. Students may feel up to discussing the text as a class, whereas other days students may want to work in groups. Treating the classroom like a blooming flower will help me to create different learning environments. The flower blooms every day, yet there are variations in how the flower will bloom. Everyday learning is going to occur, but there may be variations to how this learning occurs. Learning what the students enjoy and do not is going to help keep them motivated and engaged with literature. Another aspect of keeping classroom dynamics unique requires different formative and summative assessments. Writing an essay at the conclusion of studying a piece of literature can become monotonous. Varying the way these assessments are done will help to keep the classroom energy level high. Working in groups to create a movie trailer, a script between characters, and other group work will keep students wondering what is going to happen next. Of
course these types of assessments are not going to replace written essays, but they will be a way to break the mold of the same routine in traditional classrooms. There are many different ways to work around written essays; it is just up to the teacher to come up with these ideas. Teaching this way will also help me from getting bored with class. Students are not the only people affected by the way the class is taught. Teacher’s can fall victim of boredom if every day the class is run the same. Varying the way class is taught may cause the teacher some extra work, but this work will pay off in the end with more engaged students and a more engaged teacher.
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