02 July 2008

I believe in assigned seats and I good, strong yard stick....

I've been trying to write a first draft of my teaching philosophy-- one that doesn't sound too cliche, too grandiose, or too, well, anything but me.

This has not been going well.

The fact that I've had two students in two successive days make appointments with me (for which I had to rearrange both my and J's entire work schedules) and then not show the F$%* up.

This only causes anger, resentment, irritation, and the desire to write teaching statements about how even though I want to treat my students like the adults they are, I end up playing kindergarden teacher to a bunch of irresponsible and disrespectful brats.

Dude. I HAVE THINGS TO DO. Things which do not include sitting in a coffee shop waiting expectantly, like some sort of twisted blind date that I didn't want to go on to start with.

Now how am I supposed to sound pedagogical when I just feel like starting class with a stern lecture?

Really people, this is why I never wanted to teach High School.



AcadeMama said...

Re: "...how am I supposed to sound pedagogical whe I just feel like starting class with a stern lecture?"

I think the two are actually very closely related to each other, as well as to the teaching philosophy. I've had many of those moments, where I seriously want to go into class and do the equivalent of a "Shame on you" lecture, and sometimes I do just that. The key is, I can get away with it because that's the kind of repoire I work to create with my students, and my guess is that you likely have a similar dynamic with yours. When that exists, it makes a statement in its own right about your pedagogy: you believe in the importance of communicating honestly and directly with students about their agency in the classroom. The issue isn't about trying to describe what usually happens when students start slacking, but rather describing the ways you help motivate students to be more accountable for themselves and their work before, during, and after they're slacking. If that makes any sense at all.

The only reason I comment is that the ONE document I feel fairly confident about in my dossier is my teaching philosophy. It's the only thing that has consistently received praise from the placement coordinator, the director of our Writing Programs Office, and several faculty members and awards committeed. (And I can e-mail it to you if you're interested in looking at it). I focus on specific teaching practices and their immediate consequences, but I also refer to the "big picture" outside the classroom. The teaching statement, I've heard repeated often, is the place where a candidate can so easily go very wrong -- no pressure, huh? Thus, I think it's critical to get it "right." For me, the best way to do that, maybe the only way, was to be honest and sincerely reflective about why I do what I do in the classroom.

Also, it always helps to NOT write the statement after students stand you up for appointments :)

Sorry to hijack comments, but I hope some of this makes sense or is helpful in some way.

LD said...

ooo- I'd love to see it :)

But see, I'm fairly against the "shame on you" lecture, because I believe that my students are (capable of being) adults. It seems out of place in that kind of atmosphere--one where I expect them to rise to meet the expectations that they will be responsible without some disciplinarian lording over them.

I think I know where I'm going with it right now- but I'd still love to see yours :)

AcadeMama said...

I can't find an e-mail link on your blog page, so if you'll send a note to academama76@gmail.com, I'll pass it along :)