Name: Lauren Willard
Dept: English Department
Lauren Willard is a dedicated educator with eleven years in LAUSD with experience as a teacher, AP and GATE coordinator, and district Common Core ELA Expert. Recognized for innovation and excellence in curriculum development, mentoring and instruction that has consistently met the needs of a broad range of students, teachers, and administrators.
Her degrees and awards include: Teacher of the Year Golden Apple Award, Recipient of National Board Certificate, Fund for Teachers Fellowship, Masters Degree in English Literature with a Rhet. Comp. Emphasis, Bachelors Degree in Social Studies and English, Secondary English Credential and CLAD certification.
“During my teaching experience, I have learned that teaching students how to read and write more effectively depends greatly on the following factors: organization, willingness, and understanding. If a teacher is well-organized, is willing to listen and work with students who need help and above all, is flexible when unexpected circumstances arise, then there is a higher chance of student achievement.
It is my belief that if students feel comfortable in their classroom environment they will have a higher success rate. As a teacher, I would hope my classroom would provide students with a positive and nurturing learning environment, one that fosters cooperative learning. Some of the strategies I plan on employing include: frequent class discussions, peer review, peer editing, and reciprocal teaching. Additionally, I hope to expose students to the various writing formats: persuasive, expository, analytical, narrative, etc. I want students to feel comfortable in their writing in addition to their surroundings.
Treating writing as a rhetorical process, one that anticipates the reader, I plan on incorporating Aristotle’s triad: Ethos, Logos, and Pathos. What I appreciate about using Aristotle’s triad is its simplicity and flexibility; it can be used for any writing assignment. Additionally, it teaches students how to build credibility and to convey meaning more effectively. They are more likely to recognize “the fallibility of one’s own opinions, the probability of bias in those opinions, and the danger of weighting evidence according to personal preferences,” (Nickerson) thus becoming more objective.
As Erika Lindemann points out in her chapter, “Shaping Discourse,” “To help our students become conscious of forms they may be unfamiliar with, we need to do what we ourselves would do: look at examples, analyze them to determine what principles govern the presentation of material, and practice the form in the context of sympathetic responses from readers”(131). It is my personal goal to provide students with plenty of writing experience, practice, and constructive criticism.
Upon reading Richard Straub’s article, “The Concept of Control in Teacher Response: Defining the Varieties of ‘Directive’ and ‘Facilitative’ Commentary,” I realize that responding to student work can impact how a student internalizes information. In order to help students process their learning, I feel it is necessary to provide feedback that facilitates, not directs. Such types of “facilitative” feedback include: guiding questions, “reflective” comments, and “qualified” evaluation (Straub 243).
Seeing as how “most secondary school students tend to be unable to respond evaluatively to what they read” (Tierney 136), I plan on engaging students’ reading and understanding of the texts through dialectical journals and class discussions. Additionally, any writing done in the class will be in direct conjunction with the course reading materials.
While I agree that students should be familiar with psychoanalytical, postcolonial, feminist, new historicist, Marxist literary approaches, I don’t want them to feel limited by them. So often these approaches are introduced to students in isolation without connecting to their functions. It is my hope to present these approaches as different lenses or glasses students can try on whenever they feel inclined.
Overall, in addition to everything mentioned thus far, I am an adamant believer in “learning for learning’s sake.” As a life long learner myself, I believe teachers do students a disservice when we are not current on research and developments in education, which is why I plan on attending upcoming professional developments and collaborations with fellow colleagues. In the words of Confucius, “Learning without thought is labor lost; thought without learning is perilous.”