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Teaching Philosophy

Elizabeth Geib

There is not a better feeling, in my opinion, than receiving an email from a student that
reads, thank you for helping me grow as writer. Throughout the course of a semester, my
students and I are involved in the process of learning and writing to become stronger
communicators, but it is the after process that I am not able to see. If a student feels
motivated, without instruction or incentive, to communicate his/her growth, after the
semester is over, after ties are cut loose, I feel as though I have done my job.
Teaching for me, is a narrative. My students are writers and I am the reader. No matter how
much time I spend on lesson plans, researching videos to find effective and ineffective
advertisements, the extra five minutes I spend on providing comments for their rough
drafts- my students hold the power to fill in the blank pages of an unwritten story. My lesson
plans turn into rough sketches. My pool of advertisement selections, turn into a lengthy
discussion based on a single example. My comments turn into thought generators, where
time is of little meaning- but rhetoric is put into practice. As a reader, I can fill in the blanks
that my students may have trouble exemplifying, but as writers- my students have control
over which gaps I fill. I cannot prepare as a teacher to come to class with predetermined
answers to a narrative that I have never read, but thats the excitement of teaching.
Together, we make the story complete, because without the collaborative writers and the
reader to guide the story in meaning, then the narrative does not exist.
So, collaboration is important. In making collaboration happen, I find group work to be
crucial in the learning process of writing, reading, analyzing, and the practice thereof. In
order to write, students must understand how language can be complicating, they must
understand the implications and positive outcomes of certain assumptions. As narrators,
students must understand that their stories affect every single perception differently. In one
of my favorite exercises, I have my students refer back to a short assignment that we did on
the first day of class. I ask them to choose between two products, for example: EBay or
Amazon, Rock or Rap, movies or reading, etc. A few weeks later, I divide my students into
groups, asking each to think about one of the questions that I have assigned. They are asked

to convince an audience (of my selection) as to why their choice is best. Audiences include, a
group of toddlers, the board of education, their grandparents, etc. The point here, is for
students to take their immediate argumentative assumptions on how they would go about
convincing an audience, and to view those assumptions in a new light. Through
conversation, un-thought-of questions, and the use of rhetorical appeals, I have found my
students to shift their narratives, or their understanding of communication and writing to a
more reflective, rhetorical story.
As a previous writing center consultant and continuous writing center researcher, I find
audience to be diverse, unique, and exciting. Classrooms are whole, but every individual
student makes up a part of that classroom. Conferencing with students is where I find their
individual contribution to the larger narrative that makes up our class. As Stephen North
has said, our job is to produce better writers, not better writing. In my future as a
composition instructor, I hope to fill in the gaps of my imperfections in the understanding of
the classroom as diverse. In doing so, every semester, brings on a new narrative in which
identity and collaboration will coherently combine.