While it is always a work in progress, here are the main tenets of my teaching philosophy for the secondary ELA classroom.
Literacy As Legacy
I promote a positive climate for the advancement of literacy in which all members of the classroom community practice metacognitive reflection to improve their skills over time. I believe all students are capable of achieving strengths in their real world communications and thinking processes through their development of verbal creativity and communication. In my inclusive classroom, I believe all students deserve the support to achieve a high level of literacy that will serve them beyond the classroom. I aim to inspire my students to unlock their potential by offering innovative learning experiences and individualized approaches.
I believe that textual thinking is a critical skill for 21st century thinking. For this reason, I use real world textual models throughout my classroom teaching. I incorporate previous skills in different contexts to allow students opportunities to combine transfer and spiral learning processes.
Students are encouraged to learn through inquiry, as I provide numerous external resources for student research project-based learning opportunities.
My careful attention the thought processes that students must master as they grapple with a new literacy skill enables me to quickly respond to formative assessments that provide scaffolding through the use of mind-maps, graphic organizers, note-taking strategies, outlines and annotation.
My classroom provides a safe space for debates and projects that touch on subjects involving ethical, real world dimensions. I seek to empower students to actively engage as civic-minded members of society.
I also believe the classroom is an environment where students learn as much from each other as they do from the teacher. I see myself as a facilitator and I encourage students to develop an awareness of their own roles as independent thinkers acting within a community.
I aim to foster mutual respect within the classroom so that students gain an appreciation of one another’s diverse talents, cultures, and personal histories. Students are encouraged to wear different hats by reviewing other students’ work, and establishing leadership roles within groups, and supporting each other in teams.
It is my personal responsibility to build rapport and trust with students in a way that supports their individual learning goals. To this end, I include thorough pre-assessment in my classes both at the start of class and at the start of learning units to understand the students’ learning styles, individual passions, and existing knowledge.
This way, I can help students to design appropriate individual learning plans and set goals that reflect their specific needs through careful observation, ongoing formative assessments, and scaffolding. To accommodate the diverse learning styles of students, I utilize the support of audio and visual media, cultural artifacts, and learning stations.
I value my students’ work and showcase it on wall-displays, in classroom blogs, and in parent and community newsletters and events. Likewise, by offering multiple channels of communication and feedback opportunities for students and parents, I remain responsive make revisions as needed.
Making ELA Relevant
I understand that some texts in the literary canon may seem like museum pieces shielded by glass for students. To overcome this obstacle, I adopt a student-centered learning approach that relies heavily on student choice and student interests to find common ground between students’ lives and literary material.
In doing so, I include discussions of universal themes, movie adaptations, and intertextual connections, while encouraging students to act as detectives in identifying relevant connections of their own.
I teach analogical thinking skills in textual analysis to encourage students to draw connections between the texts we study and pop culture, current events, or other artistic media. I likewise encourage students to ignite their own imaginations to gain empathy for time-periods and cultures far removed from ours.
Secondary students are undergoing the anxiety-laden soul-searching process of planning for their futures. I hope to ease their burden by expanding students’ digital literacy skill sets and developing necessary 21st Century learning skills: collaboration, creativity, critical thinking, and communication.
As technology advances, my classroom likewise evolves in a way that explores gamification, data-driven analysis, online writing platforms, and technological skills development in the format of instruction. In doing so, I hope to inspire my students to seek out diverse problem-solving strategies using different media.