Reflection Memo

Reflection on E-Portfolio

 Born, raised, and currently living in Miami-Dade County, I’m a Ph.D. candidate in Political Theory at Florida International University.  I’ve designed and taught courses on contemporary political theory and theories of justice. I’m currently an interdisciplinary writing teaching assistant in the department of English.  I’ll be teaching an introductory English composition course in the Spring of 2014.

My E-Portfolio has a two-fold purpose.  On the one hand it is an introduction to my own teaching and intellectual interests.  On the other, it is meant to fulfill the requirements for ENG 6937 and lay out an idea of how I plan to teach the English composition course (ENC 1101) this upcoming spring of 2014.  The site includes both original work and work by fellow class mates in the ENG6937 pedagogy course, under the direction of Dr. Kimberly Harrison, at Florida International University.

My own research interests reflect the general thrust of my E-Portfolio as a whole.  Throughout my E-Portoflio I make clear that my approach to teaching is anti-authoritarian and my approach to research is anti-foundational.  These, of course, complement each other.  My intellectual interests mirror my teaching style. The student-centered approach that I lay out in my teaching philosophy puts into practice much of what my research hopes to accomplish theoretically.

Over the course of the graduate pedagogy course I think I improved by approach to teaching in several ways.  Perhaps the most important thing I took away from the course was the improvement of my commenting techniques.  I began the semester with a completely misguided idea of how feedback should be given.  John Bean’s guidance in Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing to commenting on student writing influenced my feedback process. [i]

Coming from a content driven instead of process driven teaching background my concerns in giving student feedback largely centered on discipline specific content as well as grammar and usage errors.  The approach laid out in Bean is quite different.  Instead, of course, of focusing on content and lower order concerns like grammar we focus on the structure and quality of the writing process.  The instruction in Bean’s treatment of commenting on student papers changed my perspective on the process and helped me realize how different is the nature of writing and composition instruction.

When having to deal with grammar and usage errors, I found Dana Ferris’, Treatment of Error particularly useful.[ii]  The nature of the mistakes made by multi-lingual students often has more to do with losses in translation than genuine mistakes.  Instructors should recognize these subtleties in teaching a multi-lingual and multi-cultural student body and endeavor to incorporate these insights into their feedback for student papers.

Being able to better lead classroom discussions was also a primary point of improvement for me over the course of the semester (at least in theory, we’ll see how I will employ the lessons learned in the spring of 2014).  In terms of leading effective classroom discussions, my teaching philosophy reflects a belief in a student-centered classroom atmosphere.  I will make sure to incorporate a mixture of classroom lecture, question and answer sessions and class discussion.  Endeavoring to allow the classroom debate and considerations of the texts and themes being discussed to gravitate towards student interests.

Classroom management hit especially close to home for me as I think the nature of an ENC 1101 course clashes with my teaching style (up until now).  I used to employ the evangelist style teaching method.  Where most classes I have taught were lecture based, a class like English writing and composition requires a different approach.  What most appeals to me is the role of facilitator.  Teaching composition requires many more in-class activities and scaffolding than a lecture-based course does.  Classroom discussions seem to be facilitated by this approach, especially in the context of a process centered rather than content centered class.

Also especially relevant to our English composition course is my scaffolding of assignments.  As can be seen on the unit plan for our course, the rhetorical analysis section our groups worked on has incorporated scaffolding to reflect the gradual progress students will make in their rhetorical analyses.  Scaffolding was not an aspect of my previous teaching.  Though I did give students the opportunity to send me rough drafts of assignments, the scaffolding method is much better suited to an English composition course.

Moreover, I plan on incorporating a at least one class dedicated to proper citation and documentation.  This skill will be central to every student’s career (both inside and outside the academy) and so will be covered at length in one class session. I will pay particular attention to what counts as plagiarism as the rest is straightforward.

I also have grown to appreciate the value of reflection in the writing process.  By having students explicitly state what they have learned and plan to incorporate in essays they, even if inadvertently, lay the foundation for what they will write and begin to scaffolding process right away.  Reflections have also played a central role in our graduate pedagogy course.  Through them I have been able to understand the writing process more consciously.

I have tried to make my E-Portfolio as inviting yet professional as possible.  This begins with a conversational tone at the outset (my welcome page) that still gives, even the specialist, a good idea of my primary research interests.  This page is meant to serve as a general introduction to my E-Portfolio as a whole.  My E-Portfolio also has a section dedicated exclusively to my teaching.  On it I have syllabi I have used in the past for classes that I have created, I have a copy of the unit plan we presented in ENG 6937 as well as my teaching philosophy.  This page is meant to instruct any who see the site to what I think are proper teaching methods.

I will return to this portfolio often and update a needed.  It will continue to serve as a guide to correct teaching methods and for provide students will valuable resources.  I hope that the reader has found this site to be helpful and should feel free to contact me should they have any questions at jpedroso@fiu.edu.


[i] Bean, John C. Engaging Ideas: The Professor’s Guide to Integrating Writing, Critical Thinking, and Active Learning in the Classroom 2nd ed. (Jossey-Bass, 2011)

[ii]  Dana Ferris, Treatment of Error in Second Language Student Writing (University of Michigan Press, 2011)

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