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Home > AP Courses and Exams > Course Home Pages > A Strong Foundation, or Why Is Teaching English Important to You?

A Strong Foundation, or Why Is Teaching English Important to You?

by Janice Edgerson Hudley
Colonel
Colonel
U.S. Army

Develop Your Own Philosophy of Teaching
While I was working on my doctorate, one of my professors challenged me about my reasons for teaching. "What do you hope to accomplish?" he asked. And, "Why is teaching important TO YOU?" I tossed off quick responses, but later, still feeling the challenge, decided to come up with my own relatively brief philosophy as well.

What I Believe the Teaching of Writing Is All About
I believe that my job is to help students find their own authentic writing voices and to use those voices effectively for a multitude of audiences -- academic, professional, social, public, private.
  • I believe that every student has, if given the proper support and guidance along the way, the potential to become a confident, competent writer. My job is to give that support and guidance.
  • I must teach each student to approach his or her own work with the audience in mind. Each budding writer should learn to ask several questions before writing, such as: Who will read what I write? Are those readers seeking entertainment? Enlightenment? Answers to specific questions? Guidance? General information? What?
  • I must help my students see that writing is a powerful tool for learning, and as I help students hone their writing skills, I will continually reinforce writing as a useful tool for studying subjects other than English.
  • I am responsible for my students' learning to organize their writing, develop effective personal styles, and write without distracting correctness problems.
  • I am also responsible for helping my students understand the importance of fully and honestly acknowledging others' influence on their work.
  • I must make clear to students the logic and interconnectedness of the reading and writing assignments.
  • I must write in preparation for developing writing assignments and share my work occasionally. I will be more effective in presenting those assignments to students and receive more successful products from them.
  • I must constantly ask myself how I should go about helping students meet the course objectives.
  • I must share with students our standards for evaluation.
  • I must seek to give comments that are helpful rather than useless or, worse, hurtful. One key goal toward giving such comments is to continually improve my written responses to students' writing attempts.
  • I must exorcise any prejudices I may have and assume a basic level of competence initially for all students. I must provide assistance to all who need it, regardless of gender, religion, or ethnicity.
  • I must spend time on self-examination and self-reflection.
This document changes subtly each year, and it remains a valuable tool for me as I reflect on who I am as a teacher and as a lifelong learner in the classroom. Teaching respect for intellectual property is just one aspect of my teaching philosophy. I believe that each issue I address is essential to my vision of myself in the classroom. I strongly recommend that teachers take the challenge of answering those questions my professor posed to me:
  • What do you hope to accomplish?
  • Why is teaching important TO YOU?
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Military Academy, the Department of the Army, or the Department of Defense or U.S. Government.

Janice Edgerson Hudley has taught Freshman Composition at West Point for 10 years and has directed that program for the last 5 years. She also teaches upper-level electives, including courses on the Harlem Renaissance, the comic novel, British and American literature, Native American novels, and African American novels. She has served as an AP Reader, Table Leader, and Question Leader, and is currently a member of the AP English Development Committee.






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