Teach : Tim Koppang

Teaching Philosophy

When I came to NIU, I had many nascent ideas about how I would develop and mature as a teacher. As I continue to teach, I continue to challenge those early assumptions. I believe it is important as a teacher to constantly question and reevaluate my own abilities and methods. My ultimate goal is to guide my students to a better understanding of the writing process. In order to be an effective guide, I must take the time to treat writing and teaching as a path rather than a destination. Although this method of constant reevaluation is time-consuming, it is also the most effective way I know of to ensure that I remain relevant to my students.

In the classroom, I strive to have a friendly, open atmosphere that encourages discussion and participation. I want my students to feel as though I am both capable and qualified to answer their questions. Therefore, my friendliness is also checked with an outward desire to push my students to the best of their abilities. Those challenges come in the form of assignments that stimulate creativity, self-evaluations that force students to rethink the way they organize their writing, and, of course, appropriate grading that communicates a path towards improvement. In the classroom, I am always pushing myself to create a variety of activities that appeal to students with a spectrum of learning styles. Those activities range from the formal lectures and discussions to the less formal skits and games. All of this, however, is designed with my end goal in mind: to emphasize writing as a process and a means towards effective self-expression.

I believe that the goal of teaching should be improvement. I want my students to leave my class more confident and more skilled than when they entered. I always teach towards program goals, but I also teach towards my individual students. If that means that I must alter a given lesson plan, or redirect my efforts to better accomodate (within reason) the particular problems that are hindering my students, I will do so. Not every student will achieve the same level of improvement in my class. However, the ideal that I strive for is to, at the very least, give my students the tools they need to continue on the path towards better writing.