Teaching Philosophy (updated December 2020)

What does my teaching philosophy look like after a semester teaching during Covid-19, online, at home, not knowing what I was doing?

Last year the other TAs and myself were tasked with writing a teaching philosophy. None of us were really instructed on how to write one, and thus created something fairly similar to what we had been doing the whole semester: a blog post. In that teaching philosophy I addressed the simple, and yet complex question, of “Can You Have A Teaching Philosophy If You Don’t Want To Teach?” In that I addressed my concerns on teaching but also my belief that you cannot teach writing—that writing is something you inherently pick up. Rather you can teach the skills of writing.

Before I get to my new teaching philosophy, I wanted to address a couple of things. Firstly, what did I teach during this first semester of teaching and has my view on teaching changed.

Well, it certainly wasn’t writing. I felt all I did during the semester was teach students how to read instructions, which is something I do not think I should be teaching in university, and how to format—which actually comes directly back to reading instructions. I really don’t feel like I taught anyone how to write. Maybe I did, maybe I’m just so tough on myself that I don’t believe I can do it. But inevitably I got some great writing during the semester, and equally some that hurt me to read.

When we wrote our “philosophies” last year we had no idea what this year would be like. It’s naïve of me to think that it hasn’t affected me or affected how I look at teaching since we moved into a modality that none of us knew how to use or even knew we would ever do. But I’ll be honest…I don’t think it made a difference. Yes my view on teaching has changed, and it’s changed for the worse. I was so excited and positive and my first week went so well. And then it crashed, and it crashed hard. I never knew it would be this bad. I didn’t know it could be this bad. I’ve worked some bad jobs over my life, but this is something else. But what’s worse is that it tricks you. At times I felt the lowest I’ve ever felt in my life, and then the next minute I was riding high—confident again and chastising myself for feeling bad. And then the next minute be even lower than I was before. That I had ever been before. Being online has nothing to do with it, and in fact I think it would’ve been worse if I had to pretty myself and drive to campus. Being at home was my saviour.

But ok, onto the proper teaching philosophy. Even though I will not be continuing this little experiment of mine, I’m not totally thrown off by it—which again reflects the danger of this damn job. I think I could teach creative writing or something I’m more passionate about, but I’m going off topic. Here it is:

“I believe that every student has the ability to be an amazing writer and storyteller. I will help my students to become the best writers that they can be as well as encouraging them to discover who they are as individuals.

Every classroom, whether face-to-face or online, is unique; therefore, my job as teacher will be to nurture those unique qualities of my students. I will introduce a course that will focus heavily on all types of writing, from the small and trivial to the large and professional. I will incorporate style, research, and, most importantly, new types of writing taking full advantage of all types of technology.” – Miro Jefferis-Nendick