Learning to Speak: Reflections of a Learner in ENG 100
This summer, after I was informed that I had been offered a teaching assistantship, I was terrified. I was not sure that I was capable of teaching students about a discipline in which I still possessed such a conscious doubt of my own abilities. For most of my life I was what you might call a non-achiever. When my parents strongly suggested that I enroll in college (the other option being to leave the house) everyone around me just sort of held their breath waiting for my inevitable failure. Then a strange thing happened. I passed my classes, and even enjoyed them.
I had always wanted to be an English major. In high school ...view middle of the document...
I had to prove to myself that I could overcome this hurdle. It is funny how one obstacle can create in our minds this wall of fear. So much of life is learning to overcome a fear that often dictates our decisions, desires and dreams.
I would like to say that now in reflecting back on this semester that the greatest things that I have learned were pedagogical principles or better yet some effulgent wisdom that has revealed to me exactly what the essence of teaching really is, but for me this semester has been more about convincing myself that I could do this. This is not to say that I have not learned a lot of pragmatic and helpful things along the way, because truly I have. Both the practical classroom exposure and the theory that I have read have been enlightening. Observing the intricate classroom mechanics and the spontaneous creative energy that Brian modeled for me has been extremely helpful, and the theory will certainly inform decisions, omissions and additions in the way that I teach. I have enjoyed watching the growth of Brianπs students be it through their gradually improving papers, or the journey several students made from a tentative hand raised in class discussion to an articulate individual who enthusiastically states their opinion on some aspect of thought. I feel privileged to have been able to be a witness to this.
Mirroring this progression that Brianπs students have gone through, I too have moved forward, dismantled fears, and found capabilities that I was not sure existed. Their tentative hand raised in class mirrored my shaking one as I began my first mini-lesson early on in the semester. His students growing confidence in their writing and ability to articulate their voices reflected a confidence that I too slowly developed as with each classroom encounter I came one step closer to believing that I was capable of teaching. I share joy in the progress that his students made in their writing because I can relate to their struggles, fears, and self doubt. At the end of the semester as I stood up to teach, I was still nervous, but I guess I felt like I finally belonged here, and that, perhaps, I too was deserving of a degree that was followed by that word that not too long ago seemed inaccessible: English.
My learning experience in Brianπs composition class has left me with several convictions for next semester when I begin teaching my own class. Parts of my experience have affirmed for me various components of my teaching philosophy, while other aspects have necessitated a change in approach. Many of my personal convictions about teaching were affirmed through this experience, and I think that it will be very helpful as I struggle to make choices in the classroom that I will have had the experience of struggling to learn and enter a new discourse community fresh in my mind. I have affirmed that I want my class to be accessible, inviting, and inspiring of confidence in voice and writing...