My philosophy of teaching writing is based on my belief that reading

My Teaching Philosophy
Gary H. Wilson, Ph.D.
Students in my classes are challenged to think critically in an environment that
values collective inquiry. In all my teaching, onsite or online, I endeavor to create among
my students a sense of shared intellectual community that not only increases their
comfort level in the class, but also seeks to dignify their contributions to a shared learning
effort, rather than just having them engage in passive knowledge acquisition. I find that
this teaching approach works effectively with both recent high school graduates and older
students returning to the community college classroom.
Writing at the college level can be a very demanding task for even the strong
academic performers. An effective college English and composition instructor should
help students understand and appreciate that writing is a process. The writing process is a
multi-staged process highlighted by recursive drafting and revision. It is also a
collaborative process, in which students are challenged to think critically and creatively
as they share their ideas and sharpen their writing skills through peer interaction.
Effective English teachers invariably teach writing as process, not just as an end-product.
Effective writing teachers also develop the ways and means to successfully track their
students' individual needs in progress, so appropriate feedback can be provided. By
assessing my students through their evolving writing portfolios, I find I can teach more
effectively to their needs and understand their unique writing orientations. One of my
key goals as a composition instructor is to help my students understand and develop their
own "voice" in writing. In implementing this strategy, I discover that student-writers are
able to create deeper and more intrinsic connections with their compositions and learn to
value the ownership of their own ideas and creative thoughts. Approached in this
manner, writing becomes more of a creative and liberating activity than just an
I encourage collaborative writing strategies both inside and outside the classroom
to help students benefit from collaborative learning and also to enable them to benefit
from their peers’ skills and ideas. I emphasize to all my students the precept that an
effective essay develops from a process; it becomes a final draft only after multiple drafts
and active peer reviews and individual revisions have occurred.
My classroom experiences and recent research continue to prove that learning
technologies and online courseware support students’ collaborative learning and also
enable them to engage more deeply in the writing process. This active engagement in
online courseware works equally for writers in onsite and online classes. Engaging in the
writing process online and collaboratively through digital courseware and learning
platforms, such as Blackboard, WIMBA, or Google Docs, to name several, are writing
activities that continue to be rewarded by improvements in my students’ writing levels.
When students write in virtual spaces, they are engaged in the process of writing—and
their writing then becomes part of a collaborative enterprise where others can critique and
participate in this process. For this reason, I will certainly continue to develop teaching
strategies that take advantage of the benefits that digital learning platforms provide, and I
will share my more successful ideas and ongoing research with colleagues.
College English instructors possess the unique opportunity and responsibility to
make the future a better place for their students. They should impart a vision to their
students that emphasizes appreciating literature and developing effective self-expression
and writing skills are vital to their personal fulfillment, both intellectually and
vocationally. I have an abiding faith in the power of teaching literature and writing, and
pursue this profession with an idealism that deepens every day.