Angelique Johnston

 

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Teaching Philosophy:  Inspire, Encourage, Support

I teach because I want to make a difference in peoples’ lives. Teaching leads me to continually
look for unique and varied ways to inspire, encourage, and support my students. My own early
love of books and learning has made a world of difference in my life, and I want to share that
experience with those around me. Each semester I start with an open line of communication,
express my own lifelong commitment to education, map out critical learning strategies, and work
towards building a meaningful classroom community. And each semester I am amazed by all the
new things I learn, too.

Teaching isn’t something I do by myself or in a vacuum. I see it as a collaboration of efforts. A
meaningful dialogue between student and teacher has the power to foster productive and
successful learning. Therefore, I strive to know where students are coming from. I take into
account things like: What do they like? What affects them? How are they motivated to think and
act? What are they personally invested in? Nowhere is this more important than in the
community college classroom where my students come from diverse and often disadvantaged
backgrounds. By approaching students as people first, I allow myself to understand their needs. It
not only encourages respect and investment, but works as a model in the classroom. Then, when
they approach the classroom and each other, there is a clear example of openness available to
them.

A foundation of respect and communication helps me build connections between the intellectual
pursuits and projects of our classroom and the fabric of the world around us. I make an example
of my own intellectual curiosity by asking questions about our world. My students and I discuss
ethics, politics, society, culture, and the nature of words and ideas. When we read together, I
question assumptions and build multiple perspectives. Gaining insight and the ability to see the
world through varied lenses has the capacity not just to change educational careers, but to change
the way people think in their every-day lives.

In our daily information age, we are constantly looking for quick answers. But learning doesn’t
happen with the speed of our bandwidth or the click of a mouse. Like most growth processes,
writing skills need time and practice to grow. As a writing teacher, I allow room for this creative
process to take place by encouraging students let their ideas incubate. Through free-writes,
brainstorms, critical questions, drafting, revisions, and group peer reviews, we find ways together
to bring ideas alive and to craft polished pieces of writing. This process approach carries over
when I evaluate their writing. Once enmeshed in the various phases of the drafting process, we
can begin together to assess skill level and pinpoint individual issues that students need to work
on to become better writers. Better writers are empowered with the capacity to communicate and
think with renewed clarity both in and out of the classroom.

Teaching is something I have often felt I was meant to do. In my experience, student-teacher
collaboration leads to a positive learning atmosphere that is both challenging and fun. My ability
to adapt to and learn from my students helps create a community where learning includes mutual
respect and dialogue. Once established, this environment paves the way for encouraging students
to take personal responsibility for their own education. Such a community provides the
groundwork for learning as a goal—not just of the classroom—but of life.

For more information about my work in the Fellows Program please see my e-portfolio on Authentic Reading and Writing:  PBL and Cross-Sector Strategies in English 101.