My Classroom at Glance

myclassroomAs a teacher, I instill in my students the same love to read and write that I have by encouraging them to embrace their own learning styles, strategies, and interests. When we read in class, I tell them that I hope to hear a different interpretation of that reading from each of them. If we are writing on a similar topic, I tell that I hope to read different ways to write on that topic. We all read, write, think differently, and will interpret text differently. A classroom of differing learning, writing, and reading styles offer everyone in my class opportunities for reflection and growth. A classroom of different styles also requires that I employ different strategies of teaching. My teaching involves group discussions, activities, and writing; while at other lessons may involve different forms of media which may include PowerPoint presentations, TED Talk, audio, and or graphics.

Employing multiple teaching strategies does not come without risk. My pedagogy is one of risk-taking and being unafraid to make mistakes, and I expect my students to have this same philosophy towards their learning. My lessons do not always achieve what I want them to achieve and sometimes they may just fall flat on their face. However, I have the opportunity to correct my mistakes for the next lesson, and/or re-teach the lesson that lesson the following class period. I give my students the same opportunity to correct their mistakes that I give myself. When my students writing falls flat, I provide timely feedback and then conference on a strategy students need to take to correct those mistakes. I stress that my role is to give them the tools, guidance and instruction needed to succeed, and my students respond by asking questions freely asking me questions. They will ask for my opinions, and they will ask me “why”? As a class, we will discuss “why.”

One tool that I am committed to is having students write every day, and I write with them. We do this by journaling at the beginning of class. I will give them a topic that gets them thinking about what we will be discussing. For example, “What does reading like a writer mean to you?” For 5-7 minutes, we will free write as a class. Throughout our discussion, I will ask students to share what they journaled and how their thoughts fit with our discussion.

Writing cannot be improved without some form of a peer review workshop. I’ve tried different strategies to workshopping peer review, but that one I find most productive to both writing and reviewer is Kate Kostelnik’s, “Writing Center Theory and Pedagogy in the Creative Writing Classroom.” Her pedagogical approach to workshopping just makes sense. As a graduate student consultant working at the University of Nebraska – Omaha’s Writing Center, students and faculty from all areas of the campus brought their writing to be peer reviewed. So, why can’t Writing Center pedagogy be taken to the classroom? It can. What I found that I liked most about using a Writing Center model is that it allows the author and peer reviewer to have a conversation about the writing. The author does not sit back passively and listen to feedback, but active answering questions about their writing, and discussing strategies he/she can use after the peer review session is over to continue revising his/her writing.

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7 thoughts on “My Classroom at Glance

  1. One of the things that I admire most about your methods of teaching is that you hold yourself to the same level of expectation as your students. As a student, nothing is more frustrating than a professor who does not respect my time and efforts. It’s great to hear that you’re putting in just as much effort as your students, and I’m sure that provides a much better learning environment for the entire classroom!

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  2. I agree completely and I’m so happy that you’re introducing your students to this early. I see too many times people who are shocked and too defensive in their first writing groups. The way that you introduce a healthy relationship with it is amazing.

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  3. I remember, as a high school student, how useful it was to free-write for five minutes at the beginning of class–I’m glad to see that’s “still a thing.” And that you are teaching your students workshopping skills early! No matter whether they become creative-writers or not, they will write more in their lives and knowing how to accept feedback and defend their work will be important.

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  4. Your students will appreciate, as they grow older, your time and dedication. You know (better than I do) that writing is such an important and essential tool especially in college where we submit papers on a weekly basis. The more we read, the better we write.

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  5. I have so come to love and depend on peer revision groups that I feel lost without them! They are truly hold such a treasure trove of lessons to be learned if the student will allow the feedback to sink in.

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  6. I think it’s extremely beneficial to both your students and yourself that you willingly encourage and help foster a diversity of thought processes, writing styles, and critical thinking skills. There is an increasing need of well-roundedness in this evolving world, and it looks like you’ve really got the tools and strategies to help your students succeed beyond the classroom. Well done!

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  7. I come from a very large family and we were all for the most part, learn differently. There is absolute truth in learning styles and it is so good to hear from teachers who utilize techniques that enhance learning for all the students in the classroom. Keep up the good work!

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