A Statement of Teaching Philosophy

by Iklim Goksel

My thoughts on literacy shape my philosophy of teaching. I think of literacy as the ability to think critically and to make sense of the world in different social and cultural contexts. Therefore, my goal in my teaching is to develop my students’ literacy skills. I aim at teaching my students that the world is not ‘ready-made’ but that it is filled with possibilities that they can discover. I teach them that by becoming active participants in social life they can transform the world and be in charge of their realities. In employing this methodology, I also aim at teaching my students how to value and to be proud of themselves. I strongly believe that self-confidence is conducive to learning.

I know that each of my students has his or her unique experience with the world and that they can make significant contributions to society in and outside the classroom. My role as their teacher is to make them become aware of their unique knowledge and make sure that they learn how to apply that knowledge in academic and non-academic settings. I try to help them use their existing knowledge as a foundation so that they can recognize familiar things in new relationships. 

My teaching methodology includes lesson plans that engage students in group work. I encourage my students to share their ideas with their classmates and to learn to work collaboratively. I believe that the individuality of each student contributes significantly to creating a sense of community in the classroom. In this way, students not only learn to become audiences for each other but also learn about different ideas that their classmates bring from their own discourse communities. In this collaborative learning environment, I learn from my students as well. 

Although a collaborative learning environment encourages students to become problem posers and allows them to make meaning together, not all students respond to a dialogic pedagogy. For some students, asking questions sometimes means being engaged in an inappropriate task. For others, it is an alienating experience because they have never worked in collaborative environments in school or at home. Hence, I integrate computer technologies into classroom learning by engaging students in online discussions. This methodology enhances student participation significantly. It also makes the classroom a place of hybridity by allowing students to bring to the classroom their personal literacies; the literacies they engage in outside the classroom. Doing so encourages them to discover how they can best express themselves. 

In addition to asking myself in what kinds of social relations my students may have been in before, I also think about invisible forces such as societal prejudices, and fears about sexual orientation, gender, class, and race in the classroom. Therefore, I always question the context of my classrooms and ask whether the classroom discourse is relevant to my students’ life experiences. I also challenge myself by asking whether my students are able to find their own voices or not. 

The preciousness of each student’s life experience underlies my teaching philosophy.  I design syllabi so that the classroom is a place of possibilities and solutions that prevent my students from internalizing master narratives. My ultimate goal is building bridges between the students, the academia, and the world.