Reading Room 11/13: Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers-The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Journal: The Journal of Scholarship of Teaching and Learning

Heading into graduate school, the goal should be becoming an effective college professor and make sure you are adequately prepared for each class.  This is exactly what the article entails here and systematically goes through step by step.  In the article “Creating the Teaching Professor: Guiding Graduate Students to Become Effective Teachers” by Ronald J. Weber, Ann Gabbert, Joanne Kropp, and Patrick Pynes, this group of researchers demonstrate their learning experiences with being a History Professor.

The alterations are being put in place when it comes to helping graduate students become college professors.  Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes compiled a bunch of stories on their journey into teaching at the University of Texas at El Paso.  All of this became beneficial because this study is being done on the History Teaching and Learning Seminar in the History Ph.D. program at the University of Texas at El Paso.  The research being made in this article looked at the teamwork with graduate students and how they found great teaching tools.  With this process, the graduate students (who participated) found out that being a listener is monumental in teaching, effectiveness outweighs the idea of finding new teaching skills, and that the system for teaching college teachers needs so much work in which sets up student academics to be a teacher.  The researchers primarily worked with Scholarship, which was extremely crucial in this process because it made sure these students moved up with the material.  For example, the researchers said this about teaching, “Teaching was broadly conceived as the dissemination of content knowledge to students” (Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Professors are not supposed to know everything when it comes to their field of study.  In fact, they are just as much of a student of education as undergraduate students.

This seminar gave students different aspects which helps practice becoming a teacher and blend the dynamics of teaching and scholarship as well.  However, what the problem is that graduate students try to imitate their professors from the past and blend their teaching methods as well.  This is very concerning because the graduate students ignore the current undergraduate students’ routines to learn.

What the researchers did in this study is that they asked all of the graduate students in the course to gather a portfolio in relation to academia.  In other words, they would include their method of researching and what their goals are in teaching.  To have a comparative look at teaching vs learning, these graduate students have only just begun thinking about how a student improves.

What the researchers found is that the graduate students adapted effectively as they shape who they are as a person.  For example, the researchers commented on the seminar’s goals even further, “In addition to treating young academics as students, the seminar also leads them to think and act as teachers by planning and organizing a college class”(Weber, Gabbert, Kropp, and Pynes, 2007).  Graduate students should look at young students as human beings in education because it removes this dehumanizing notion of becoming a college professor.  The relationship between a student and teacher needs to have clarity and more importantly, these graduate students in training should be organized with their field of study.

I found this article to be very helpful as a first-year graduate student in English Literature/Creative Writing because I am taking a seminar class on something similar to the study. The class is called the teaching practicum in Creative Writing.  In this class, we voice our concerns as a graduate instructional assistant and provide ample case studies.  Within these narratives, it sets us up to become future professors at the college level.  However, after reading this article, my anxiety level as a graduate student decreases a bit.  I know many of my peers in that class have been nervous about giving a lecture for the first time and sometimes they are critical after the presentation.  But what this article taught me is that you need to know the culture of the classroom.  It is so imperative to ensure your teaching philosophy is consistent throughout your career.  In the end, it is all about practicing and training graduate students to be the future college professors of the 21st century.

This article gives me a new outlook on how I want to conduct my last case study for the semester in my practicum class.  I need to think of this question: do I truly understand the class?  Do I understand them and can relate to them as a student teacher when we do group work?  It is something I need to explore deeper and further as I transition into my second semester.

Teaching Philosophy

Teaching philosophies are a forever changing narrative for faculty members at a university.  According to Mary Bowne’s article “Developing a Teaching Philosophy” in the Journal of Effective Teaching, the philosophy is constructed to be both a reflective reminder; as well as a mantra to get them through the good and bad days as a teacher.  A teaching philosophy is a chance for faculty members to find ways to grow and make note of their specific ideologies used in the classroom.  For example, Mary Bowne makes note of the self-reflective process with a teaching philosophy, “This self-reflective process provides opportunities for faculty to continually self-examine their teaching and the learning take place within and outside the classroom”(60).  With this reflective process, several groups may participate in the teaching philosophy with the faculty member.  Some of these members could include students, supervisors, or even fellow educators.  This teaching philosophy is a tool for future educators wanting to teach someday because they look at the teacher’s philosophy so they can find their own narrative in the classroom.

As a first-time graduate student, reading this article really opened my eyes to teaching philosophies because I have only understood parts of the philosophy.  From my understanding, I have been under the impression that teaching philosophies reflect on the faculty instructor’s theories and lessons inside the classroom.  However, it astonishes me to read that a teaching philosophy encompasses a larger audience group.  It not only broadens my scope on what to expect when writing a teaching philosophy.  At the same time, I assure myself to not go into this process blindly and really seek out a second pair of eyes when I develop my own philosophy.  As Mary Bowne points out in the article, “Educators need to show humility, acknowledging that they don’t know everything about teaching and are willing to learn more, thus reflecting on past processes and experiences and adapting to new ones, showcasing a self-reflective, developmental process of one’s teaching”(62).  Mary Bowne shares the truth behind treating a teaching philosophy as a learning because the philosophy will always be a revision process.  As a writer and a student, I have learned that my work is going to be improving throughout my life.