Teaching is a difficult discipline. It’s a community of immense possibility with a multitude of demands, and the purpose and process of education can be summarized into this metaphoric principle: teachers change apples into applesauce – they make knowledge accessible to academic infants through digestible portions.
— Environment —
Classroom atmosphere is the most significant aspect of teaching. It is not possible to teach effectively in an atmosphere of hostility, confusion, or anger; therefore, it is important to maintain a classroom of mutual respect that fosters an environment for enlivened discussion, academic exploration, and student responsibility. The cohesive glue engendering such an environment between the teacher and the class is meaningful, realistic, engaging activity; prompt, pellucid, dignified discipline; and clearly explained (and often re-explained) rules for all class assignments, routines, and procedures.
— Literature —
Literature is not stagnant thought tucked away in dust collecting texts. It is writing that should be experienced, and students deserve to be invited into that experience. Essential to a student’s experience of literature is a dialogue with literature. The teacher creates the discourse in which students can speak their mind and discover meaning. Although practical methods may differ, the teacher must develop prompts that require differing complexities of thought and evoke a variety of responses: analytical, reflective, and creative. Students must also be challenged to engage literature through lessons that explain its dynamic interaction with history, philosophy, theology, politics, and science, and they must be equipped to engage literature so that it has relevance in students’ lives and importance for them in their daily experiences.
— Writing —
Good writing is a product of clear, concise, cogent thought. The teaching of writing must therefore attempt to cohere to the thinking processes of the mind and provide writing opportunities that assist and strengthen those processes. To do this, it is first necessary to inundate students with thought provoking experiences. These experiences are typically engendered by helping each student connect his classroom study to his life experiences. The connection of academia to the student’s day to day life empowers the English curriculum with relevance that engages students intellectually such that they want to write; it is then that the teacher can inform and guide students through the difficult task of committing their ideas into words. This guidance should demonstrate the writing process and illustrate a variety of pre-writing and brainstorming techniques. Students are thus inspired to respond to experiences relevant to their lives and challenged to find the writing tools that work best for their way of thinking, making meaning, and communicating their ideas into words.
— Accessibility —
I believe teaching is about making knowledge attainable. There is no certified, singular approach to do this, and that is why the most important tools I have available to me are my observations, innovations, and imagination. I am always seeking to discover new methods for teaching literature and writing within the paradigm of what I believe encompasses a good classroom atmosphere, an engaging study of literature, and an effective method for writing instruction. I want to ensure, as best as I can, that each student in my class is functioning at the proximal level of learning by utilizing scaffolding techniques, sound pedagogical practices, and teaching that cultivates the applesauce principle: accessible knowledge through digestible portions. Education is the art of applesauce.