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Making My Teaching Beliefs

posted: 7.25.13 by Traci Gardner

Somehow, I have escaped writing a teaching philosophy for a long time. In fact, I’m not positive that I ever have written one. If I did, it would have been some twenty years ago, and I have no idea where I’d find it now. It’s not that I haven’t thought about what I value as a teacher. I blog about what matters every week. I just haven’t had to write an official statement—until now.

Recently, Make Cycle 4 (the fourth project) for the National Writing Project’s MOOC, Making Learning Connected (#clmooc), asked us to focus on our credo, or statement of our beliefs, as they relate to teaching and Connected Learning. In particular, we were to consider the values of equity, full participation, and social embedded-ness. These ideas are closely related to teaching in MOOCs specifically, but they should be part of every classroom.

As I thought about what my personal teaching statement should include, the lyrics from “Girl Scouts Together” floated to the top:

Learning our motto, living our creed
Girl Scouts together in every good deed.

I first encountered the word creed in those lyrics as a child, when I learned the song with my troop. The memory made me reflect on all the experiences that go into a personal creed, and I realized that just stating my beliefs about teaching wasn’t enough. I wanted to think about where my beliefs came from.

The resulting project was another Prezi presentation, Making My Beliefs. The robot layout I chose looked a little like a meat grinder to me, but I liked the organizational metaphor of putting values and experiences in, processing them, and concluding with a statement of my beliefs:

It’s hard to narrow such statements down to something that feels authentic without invoking a lot of pedagogical jargon. As difficult as it was to search for the right ideas and words, I enjoyed the chance to think about where my beliefs about teaching have come from.

Just as valuable, the #clmooc resources for this activity can be used in the writing classroom in an assignment that asks students to think about their personal beliefs. In addition to using “This I Believe” essays and presentation, the #clmooc designers point to Bull Durham’s credo and starting with someone else’s credo, and they use presentation tools like 9Slides and Jog the Web to share the ideas. Be sure to check out the #clmooc blog post for full details.

Unfortunately, #clmooc will soon be over, but assignments like this one make me very happy to have signed up. See you next week with details on my next #clmooc activity.

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One Response to “Making My Teaching Beliefs”

  1. Terry Elliott Says:

    So focused in your reflection on your credo and in sharing what others did. That is a rare writing gift. I love the meatgrinder image. Now there are three things you never want to see made–sausage, laws and credos!