My Secondary ELA Teaching Philosophy

While it is always a work in progress, here are the main tenets of my teaching philosophy for the secondary ELA classroom.

A Legacy of Literacy:

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 impacting results through their 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.  

Enthusiasm for ELA:

My students are challenged to improve their ability to draw distinctions among diverse textual forms, reflect on these forms in reading journals and discussions, creatively experiment within these forms through writing and revision, and to think critically about such distinctions through independent research and textual analysis. In the process, they develop their metacognitive awareness of speech-acts by identifying, describing, and mimicking textual models. I develop students’ awareness of grammatical convention, craft, style, rhetoric, form, and genre by pre-teaching necessary skills and establishing clear goals and expectations for each assignment. I provide an immersive learning environment by offering students ample resources for reference and research, a diverse library of texts, digital tools for document sharing, and examples for setting high standards. Finally, I teach and model a variety of thought organization strategies including mind-maps, graphic organizers, note-taking, outlining, and annotation to support my students’ critical thinking skills.

Civic Purpose:

I believe the classroom is an environment where students learn as much or more 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 am to foster mutual respect within the classroom so that students gain an appreciation of one another’s diverse talents, cultures, and personal histories. Students wear different hats by reviewing other students’ work, and performing assigned duties within teams to understand the value of collaboration in achieving one’s personal best. My classroom also 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.

My Supportive Role:

In my classroom, each individual learner is recognized, respected, guided, and challenged in a way that depends on my active role as their observer and guide. It is my personal responsibility to build rapport with students in a way that supports their 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, 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 historic texts in the literary canon, i.e., Beowulf, may seem more like museum pieces shielded by glass than relatable material. 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 engage their historical imaginations to gain empathy for time-periods and cultures far removed from their own.

Providing a Lasting Influence:

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 embeds 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.