Teaching Philosophy as Welcome Letter

I wrote a teaching philosophy back in 2009 and this class presented a great opportunity to revise it and reflect on how my pedagogy has changed since then. Some of the wording remains the same, while a new paragraph emerged because of the literature I’ve read this semester. I really liked the idea described on iTeachU of the Welcome Letter, so I tried something new and wrote my teaching philosophy as if I were writing to my students, instead of a hiring committee.

Welcome!

To help you learn more about the course and what to expect this semester, I’d like to start by telling you more about myself. A key objective of my teaching is building and maintaining a sense of self-efficacy in our classroom. To accomplish this, I need you to understand that I believe in you. More importantly, the skills-based assignments are designed so that you come to believe in yourself. I follow the maxim that the greatest competition in life is against one’s self. Think of me as a coach. I’m here to help you discover that you are capable of what I ask in this class, and encourage you to set goals that tie in to what you want for your future. Sometimes it will be a long process of small steps. But if you believe that you can be an effective speaker in my speech class, it is then easier to become an effective speaker outside of class.

I feel fortunate to have the experience of teaching skills courses. In my view, learning how to manage your relationships, work in groups, and give presentations helps you believe in the power of self-presentation. In teaching these communication concepts and terms, I am offering you the chance to develop a more precise language for your experiences. When you learn the language for something, you begin to conceptualize it more completely. To aid that conceptualization process, I make an effort to help students set objectives and track improvements. I also track your progress by collecting mid-semester feedback in order to adjust the course as we go along.   For example, many students have indicated that they find quiz games an entertaining memory aid, so I adapted a slide version of Jeopardy! to help them build team spirit in groups as well as actively review course material.

The objectives I set and the activities I choose are guided by theories of learning that emphasize learning at multiple levels in both cognitive and interpersonal arenas. That means I will challenge you to go beyond recalling vocabulary and thinking of hypothetical examples. You will integrate research-based concepts and best practices to generate original speech outlines and visual aids, and will present them live to an audience. In addition, we will always be mindful of the human element of the communication process. Perspective-taking and considering diverse needs is important to bring context to the class.

In this communication course, you will practice how to explain your craft, support your positions, and express your passions. I am humbled by the responsibility of fostering that expression, and the activities I conduct in class are geared toward maintaining a supportive environment for it. The first rule on the policy statement for all classes I teach is about respect. Although you are learning for yourself, you also are learning with others. Peers provide an invaluable resource as each of you builds self-efficacy in a community of knowledge-seekers. It is my hope that if we believe in each other, that support will help us continue to rise to new challenges.

References

Fink, L. D. (2013).  Creating significant learning experiences: An integrated approach to designing

college courses. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

 University of Alaska Fairbanks. (2014). iTeachU- Welcome Letters. Retrieved from

                                                https://iteachu.uaf.edu/online-training/manage-classrooms/welcome-letters/

1 thought on “Teaching Philosophy as Welcome Letter

  1. Owen

    Nice job on getting this in, Alda. You’re almost there!

    Your philosophy exhibits personal reflection and metacognition as well as substantial critical thinking. Your writing is thorough and I like how you frame the exercise as a letter about yourself and your teaching to your students. The welcome letter is a nice idea. Your statement is a bit light on identifying the underlying learning theories of your philosophy, but I do see your nod to learning theory in paragraph three.

    Congratulations. The finish line is in sight!

    Well done.

    -Owen

    Reply

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