Teaching Philosophy of Dawn Wooten

Writing is many things: an art, a skill, a means of learning. It is also organic. I strive to teach my students that writing is a living, evolving process that cannot be treated with rigidity. However, within the confines of a classroom and predetermined curriculum, it is a challenge to communicate the varied and complex processes of writing.


It is important for students to become better writers so that they may succeed in other endeavors. Because writing is the primary mode of communication in our society, it is vital that all students are competent in varied forms of writing. They must learn not only grammar and mechanics, but purpose, audience, voice, and vocabulary. No matter what their discipline, students will need to know how to write a narration, an argument, a persuasion, critical analysis, and expository/research papers. Without these skills, students will find it difficult not only to complete their education, but to function in the job market and society as a whole.


My goals as an instructor are simple: I strive to teach my students that writing is not to be feared, but rather to be embraced as a key component to success in life. I strive to teach my students that while natural writers are rare, anyone has the capacity to improve his or her writing skills with the proper tools and training. Being forthright about the work involved is critical in preventing students from setting up impossible expectations for themselves.


In our current educational climate, a lot of emphasis is placed on inflated grading and social promotion. This leads to teachers who teach to the lowest common denominator. I do not believe in lowering expectations to meet the students where they are; I believe in raising expectations to encourage students to excel. By voicing the truth that all students have the capacity to write well and helping them find their inner voice, they can be confident and eventually write with skills they never imagined they could have. It takes effort on the part of the teacher and a willingness to deal with students on an individual level to achieve such success.


The methods and materials involved in the teaching process must be effective for each class. It is imperative for any instructor of writing to have multiple lesson plans, a vault of intriguing assignments to choose from, and the flexibility to change course during the semester if the current lesson plan is inadequate for the students.
Because writing can be difficult and, dare I say, boring, to learn, my most successful technique is bringing humor to the classroom. Students always respond positively when a teacher shows a sense of humor. In addition, it is important to show the students that teachers are human beings. Self-deprecation and honesty about one’s shortcomings are disarming to students. I have found that students usually view teachers as creatures with omniscient, omnipresent powers. This can be very intimidating. By showing that I do not know everything, and that even teachers need to look things up, a semblance of equality is created in the classroom. Students begin to see teachers as colleagues or partners in the endeavor of education.


However, a delicate balance must still exist. I never allow my students to expect or achieve control or authority in the classroom. I make it very plain on the first day that each student is personally responsible for his or her own education and that I ultimately have the final say in all matters. Demonstrating that I respect them as adults gives them a sense of pride and self-worth which helps learning proceed much more smoothly.


Writing can be a wonderful, self-expressive creation to be used in any number of situations. As a teacher of writing, it is crucial that every possible method and technique is utilized to aid the students in achieving success. It is my job to educate them about the importance and usefulness of writing as our society’s primary source of communication.

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