Me, me, me, me, me. Going back and looking over the posts, what I have noticed is that they are all for the most part about me. Other than the Week 1 reading where I connected blindness to novice reading, pretty much every post has been about my experiences, and what I saw in my classroom, and my opinions on the usefulness of the various readings throughout the semester.
However, I do not think that this is necessarily self-indulgent or egotistical (though some of you may disagree). I think that it stems from what is possibly the most important development for me in regards to English 610 this semester. That would be reflection. Specifically, that would be reflection about my teaching experiences, my teaching philosophy, and my teaching practices. When I first started teaching oh so many years ago in that long forgotten year 2006 I had a head full of the newest pedagogical practices and the idealism to believe that I was going to adopt all of them and be some sort of super teacher. When I actually started teaching, it did not take me too long to settle for maintaining control of 32 hormonal teenagers for an hour and fifteen minutes at a time. Not that I completely abandoned everything I had learned or did not want to be super teacher (I still do), but I realized early on that there were any number of obstacles in the way.
Somewhere along the way I developed my own personal style of teaching, and I think that is normal. It worked for me, I think my students learned some stuff and seemed to more or less enjoy my classes. However, once I had settled on that style I stopped thinking about how to improve on my teaching. Lesson planning became mechanical for me, everything fit into what
I had decided would be my practice. Again, I don’t think they were bad lesson plans, but there was a certain rigidness to how I planned units. At some point I just stopped reflective practice (even though it had been one of the biggest stressors in PSU’s teaching program). When I started grad school for literature, teaching got pushed back even farther in my brain. I was constantly reflecting on literature, and literary theory, and even how I could use some of the stuff I learned about literature in my classroom, but I was not actually thinking about teaching practices or philosophy, just content matter.
Other teachers never really talked about these types of things. From what I can tell of faculty lunch rooms, teachers mainly talk about their own children and American Idol. All of the seminars and professional development meetings I had to go to did not really spark my interest either. They always seemed poorly run and taught by people who had not seen the inside of a classroom in over a decade. They were something to get through so I could get back to grading.
However, now as I look back over these blogs, I realize that thinking about teaching, reflecting on my practices is now actively part of my consciousness again. The readings, and even more so the writing about the readings has made me form an opinion on a wide range of pedagogical issues. Honestly, at times, it made me wonder if I have been a bad teacher over the years because I was on auto-pilot (though usually only for a second, I feel pretty good about what I have done). Also, as I begin to try to incorporate some of these ideas into my teaching, I notice that my style of teaching, which had been set, is slowly changing. It is adapting and hopefully getting better. It makes me think of something else that I learned my first year that I have forgotten: we never actually are finished learning about teaching. It is a process and skill that you continue to hone over your career. However, to hone it, you need to constantly be reflecting on it, a lesson I forgot. Looking over the blogs, and now writing this one, I have remembered it and will try not to forget it again.