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Jasmine C.

Williams

Philosophy of Teaching

Writing: A Universal Connection

I am a firm believer that the birth of writing begins as cathartic and the love of writing stems from the impression that what one has to say is valuable. Creating an environment where students are first is essential. Encouraging students to write out their feelings, interpretations of events, and life experiences opens apprehensive students to the process of writing for catharsis, self-discovery, and encourages metacognition during the bridging time of higher education. As students struggle through their transition from teens to young adults, I am pleased to read in my students weekly free writes that they enjoy their journals as an outlet and a private conversation with their teacher. This process of reflection through journaling, acknowledged by Peter Elbow, heavily depends upon a curriculum designed with the learner as an active participant in his or her education experience as a part of personal growth. When students take responsibility for their own learning, they further establish their identity as an adult. Writing allows students to delve into these processes. Because students are perfectly capable of self-organizing education, I understand that it is not my job to dispense knowledge, but to step aside and facilitate the learning process, unobtrusive upon their natural progression. It is my encouragement that is most pertinent to my writers. I concur with Mary Ellen Weimers five dimensions of a learner-centered teacher: the balance of power, function of content, role of instructor, process and purposes of assessment, and responsibility for learning. Through these five dimensions, students are empowered. Students are better able to establish universal connections with teachers who submit themselves as master learners instead of gate keepers to knowledge. When I began teaching, I searched for a way to connect with my students. The reality that I, a human capable of mistakes, was able to redeem myself through writing and learning, and uplift from poverty, connected with them. I believe that the dynamics of our human experiences solely depends upon the ability to share them through universal connections. By disclosing my story of uplifting from poverty, I gained respect from my once resistant writers and laid the foundation of an educational safe house built from individual student connections where each of their ideas is valued. This foundation allowed me the chance to lead my writers through their processes of self-discovery along their journeys to establish their

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own identities. Along this journey, students will encounter diverse ideas, beliefs, and cultures. It is vital that students learn how to communicate across discourse communities. I believe that my writers must understand the significance of diversity and share those experiences as artifacts of the human experience. To integrate sharing of experiences in the classroom, I try to incorporate activities that encourage community. As a teacher of composition studies, I acknowledge and structure my classroom under the outcomes of the Council of Writing Program Administrators (CWPA). Each of my writers assignments is taught within a rhetorical situation, typically involving college experiences. For my writers, their learning environment is quite often composed of small, stable groups of writers that work collaboratively to understand principles and concepts discussed earlier in the brief mini-lesson of the course day. I strongly believe that students learn best in the language and unobtrusive dynamics of their relationships with their peers; therefore, I take the initiative to make almost all in-class work small group work. Similar to Susan Jaratts ideologies, I credit my writers as essential sources of knowledge to their peers. My writers are also encouraged to focus on the process of writing and participate in in-class activities that decompose processes to aid them in understanding the principles of effective writing. Major assignments are largely individual but consist of collaborative components such as peer revisions and creation of audience profiles. By implementing these practices in my learning environment, my writers create a workplace where they seek one another for understanding and consult me for clarification. As students learn, I find my value in their Eureka! moments. One day during a class discussion, one of my students opened up and spoke to me about a series of tasks that confused him. My writer said to me Ms. Williams, you a good teacher. I smiled and he elaborated, At first, I was like, why we gotta do this assignment, I mean, I didnt see the purpose of it, but now I get it, you a good teacher. It is moments like this that I value the connection I share with my students as writers, as humans.