“Rhetoric is a mode of altering reality… the creation of discourse which changes reality through the mediation of thought and action.” – Lloyd Bitzer
I’ll admit I tend to find myself thinking of my pedagogy and teaching as more of a “learning philosophy.” After all, if you can’t learn from your experiences, how can you teach?
Working with students who write at drastically different levels has taught me not only how to continuously seek to effectively convey concepts through a combination of visual and auditory presentation styles, but also how to communicate with very diverse groups of people who often had very different academic needs and career goals. This is when my focus in teaching shifted to practical application and communicating to students how they can use rhetorical writing strategies (e.g. effective arguments, sound reasoning, critical thinking with sources to support assertions, etc.) within their own disciplines in order to more effectively communicate their ideas and work.
I have always been something of a pragmatist, and it is no surprise to me that I have gravitated toward helping students learn how to apply writing strategies to the work they do outside of English courses, especially in the realms of professional and technical writing. I believe that everyone should be able to communicate what they think in writing, but more importantly, they should be able to do that in the situations most relevant to their own lives — and in the ways they feel honestly represent themselves. In my experience, this means people need to know learn ways to communicate professionally for their careers, and students often want a lot of feedback on how to do that with respect to their own goals.
With an emphasis on learner-centered pedagogy, I strive to be the kind of teacher who provides multiple opportunities for students to receive feedback, whether that feedback is regarding the essay content as a whole or addressing specific concerns. More importantly, I seek to provide feedback that applies to the students as individuals. Through a heavy focus on revision, I work to help students identify areas for improvement, encourage progress through constructive criticism, and further involve students with problem-solving strategies.