Sharing TPS Drafts & Feedback

Hillarie Zimmermann's draft TPS

Hillarie Zimmermann's draft TPS

by Hillarie Zimmermann -
Number of replies: 3

Here goes!  It feels scary to put my TPS out into the world!  Open to all feedback and comments.

Hillarie Zimmermann - Teaching Philosophy Statement

Learning can be uncomfortable.  As an eighteen-year old Canadian student, I found myself in South Africa pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in South African politics.  I have memories of my first class in Industrial Sociology in Southern Africa.  My mind spun.  We were asked to read documents from the South African Communist Party (1915-1980).   I was uncomfortable.  I was excited.  I was challenged.  Beyond the intellectual challenge, university was a fundamental time in my personal development.  I marveled at the adventure of being somewhere new.  I met unbelievably interesting people and I had personal moments of social and emotional discovery.  It was a time of great discomfort and a time of great growth.  There were so many factors in my growth – my engagement with other people, my engagement with faculty, my engagement with new information, my engagement with place.

Twenty-five years later, I find myself a teacher.  I find myself the facilitator of students’ self-discovery.  All students have such great potential.  I want students to take a risk.  I want them to think about their potential to change their own worlds and to change the world around them.  I believe that everyone can make a meaningful difference in the world, however small.  We do this by being curious.  By asking questions.  By reflecting upon what we believe to be true.  “Don’t believe everything you think”.  Challenge the world around you.  Education is a key piece of challenging the norm, of creating a more equitable society.  I like to model curiosity.  I am interested and excited by new ideas and multiple ways of knowing.  I want students to ask questions and challenge their understanding of the way things are. 

I believe that my role as a teacher is to create a safe and welcoming environment where students feel they can explore who they are, how they fit in the world around them, and how they can make the world a better place.  I respect my students as people.  They are people with a wealth of prior experience and knowledge and they have a lot to contribute to conversations.  It is the process of sharing that allows for growth.  I understand that sharing takes courage and I talk about the discomfort and vulnerability that I feel when I share my thoughts, feelings and ideas.  I too am human and want my students to see my vulnerability.

I see my role in the classroom as a facilitator.  I guide my students through a course in a collaborative and consultative manner.  I believe that my role is to provide an accessible course format, interesting and relevant content, and the opportunity for students to interact with myself, other students, and the content to discover new and interesting ways to look at the world.  I ensure my students feel supported and safe and I fundamentally believe that success is based on being open-minded, taking risks, and putting in hard and persistent effort.  I also constantly challenge my own beliefs and conceptions of what makes a “good student” and what “hard and persistent effort” looks like.  I believe that continuous personal reflection is necessary to ensure education is inclusive and open to all.

Class discussions are my favourite part of teaching.  I understand that every student learns differently and as such I integrate technology and aspects of distance learning into my face-to-face classes to give students a variety of options for interacting with the content, myself, and other students.  Engaging conversations can happen through a variety of media and I constantly challenge myself to increase the level of accessibility to these conversations.

Education is powerful in personal journeys.  I have an intense desire to support people in their personal journeys.  I understand that being a teacher offers an opportunity to be a small piece of this journey.

In reply to Hillarie Zimmermann

Re: Hillarie Zimmermann's draft TPS

by Sue Hellman -

Hi Hillarie,

I've been thinking for days about how to respond to your draft. When I read it the first time, all I could think was: "WOW. This woman has told a compelling story. I really want to meet her." This is exactly what you want your TPS to do. The statement as a whole reflects the WHY's that you've summed up in the last paragraph. 

But then I came to what's hard for me: pointing out areas for improvement without sounding heavy-handed or didactic. I've spent all night working on a checklist which depersonalizes that process a little, but I want to start by saying what I feel is needed to strengthen this TPS.

First, you have given me the feeling of what it would be like to be taught by you (I think it would be wonderful), but I don't really know what being in your class would be like in terms of teaching or assessment methods. The draft is lacking in concrete (some say specific) details and examples needed to show me how your facilitation of learning and your use of discussion and technology (for example) are different from the way other teachers handle them.  You might go through your draft, listing all the different things you say you do and value (in general terms). Cluster them in terms of the goals they help you meet. Then think of a specific example that would show me how these are handled in your classes. That would help me gain insight into how you 'walk your talk'. I don't just want to know your destination and map route; I want to see the most interesting or relevant parts of the journey through your eyes. 

For example: In the paragraph that starts "I see my role in the classroom as a facilitator." instead of following up with more general statements, share an example of your content which would show me that you've made it accessible, interesting and relevant, instead of using descriptors that could mean one thing for me but another for you. 

A few other things ...

As you became more and more enthusiastic in your flow of ideas, the thoughts seemed to bounce around. Working on 2-3 sub-themes could help with that. There is an absence of references which TPS readers usually want to see. If you came to your current style through experience and experimentation, sat that. If there are influential readings, research, or role models that shaped your teaching, giving them credit is expected.  Finally, your writing style drew me into your story and left me almost breathless, but to create that effect, you've evolved a sort of verbal short hand in some spots. A TPS is personal in voice but formal in style in that it should conform to the conventions of sentence structure and so forth -- without becoming pedantic or academic-sounding. 

I hope this helps. I have not filled in the checklist because I think you might get further if you do it yourself. I have attached it for you. There's also a new reference to a process called 'reverse outlining' in the Moodle which you might prefer. 

I also hope I've made clear that I loved reading your piece. Thank you for giving me the privilege of reviewing it.  I'd be most interested in seeing the next iteration.

-Sue

In reply to Sue Hellman

Re: Hillarie Zimmermann's draft TPS

by Hillarie Zimmermann -

Hi Sue,  Thank you so so much for your detailed feedback.  I really appreciate the time you took to review my TPS and provide such insightful and helpful comments.  I feel like you have given me a gift!  I have not had the chance to look at your comments in detail nor incorporate some of your suggestions.  I really look forward to sitting down with your comments and reflecting on them.  I hope to do this in the next couple of weeks.  Thanks!

In reply to Hillarie Zimmermann

Re: Hillarie Zimmermann's draft TPS

by Sue Hellman -

Hi Hillarie, I appreciate your kind remarks. If there's anything more I can do to support your process, you can drop a note here or contact me via email at suehellman.edu@gmail.com. Creatng this course was a learning journey for me. Over the next months I'll also be revising based on the feedback I received from the final evaluation and my observations about the drafts submitted this round to guide. Thanks for your participation. -S