Nilo A Bermeo
WID Program

The WID program has been a wonderful and impactful experience. I appreciate the guidance from the group leaders I had the pleasure of meeting with. They were knowledgeable, engaging, and supportive throughout all the meetings. While our group was very small, I felt we accomplished a lot. Aside from the revising of work, which will be discussed later, my favorite times were simply discussing our varied approaches to teaching and engaging with students, and the weekly journal writings we did to prep for the day’s discussions. As someone who loves learning about teaching and loves learning how others approach the subject, I got a lot out of hearing from my group members. In particular, I loved hearing from my group members because none were from my field, so I got to see how other subjects are approached. The weekly journals were also strong tools to be used in our sessions because it literally forced us to think about how we teach, how we write, and how we communicate with others. While far from a revolutionary idea being brought forth, I do feel the journal writing allows for a self-examination that many of us sometimes may not conduct on a regular basis. Much like I tell my own students, through asking yourself why this or why that, you may discover a lot more than you bargained for, which is a reasonable price to pay.
In looking over our class assignments, I liked the critiquing from the group members. Since none were English majors, I appreciated how they looked at the assignments from a further distance than I regularly do. They were able to find places where I can improve. It was recommended that I may want to provide some background on lessons learned that should be applied to the given assignment. For example, it is crucial for the students to understand that when they look at the prompt, they need to figure out its framing. While I do have a lesson I give on this topic, I never included it in the assignment itself, but thanks to my group members, I saw how a quick reminder of what framing is and how it is crucial when reading the assignment’s prompt, will help students reconnect the class lessons with what the writing they will need to do. Aside from providing a summary of what framing was on the assignment sheet itself, I also decided to define what is a secondary source, how to use it, and the differing types of secondary sources. This too is important to state in the assignment because some students may not fully grasp yet the difference between the primary and secondary sources and they may not know that any secondary source cannot replace or overtake the use and discussion of the primary source.
When it came to the syllabus, while I was satisfied with most parts, I did feel that some of my low-stakes and mid-stakes assignments may not be as helpful to students as I want them to be. One of the key takeaways I got from Engaging Ideas is that people approach readings from all different angles – be it those who feel there is a certain answer, those who feel the answer needs to be figured out through clues, to those who do not know where to look to find some type of answer. One way to help students who may be confused over what to look for beside the main plot of a story, is to ask specific questions before students read the text. One way to do this is through routine journal writing. By emphasizing how little grammar and / or spelling factor into journal writing, I can pose questions that students can freely write about and that can help stir future class discussions. When reading for homework, guided questions can also help students focus on the passage more and perhaps grasp the intent of the writer to their audience.
The last section I clearly remember had an impact on me was the section on the rubric. I have long had issues with the use of a rubric in a classroom, and when I read chapter 12 of Engaging ideas, I was ecstatic to read how I am not alone with my worries. The rubric can be used as a means to pigeon-hole students and make unilateral opinions about their writing abilities and overall reading comprehension. However, that type of usage in the classroom is wrong and harmful. As I read the chapter, I liked looking over the many examples of rubric models created over the years. What I loved about seeing such varied methods is that it proved how so many of us educators think about the effectiveness of the rubric when it comes to grading papers, and also evaluating students. As much as wanted my rubric to be “good,” when I used it, I felt like all I was doing was giving out percentage points for different areas. How does any of that directly help a student? The one rubric I found in that chapter that drew me in was the Analytic Rubric with Non-Grid Design. What I love about this rubric is that it boils all major areas that need to be graded into leading questions which students can familiarize themselves with framing and which students can self-mark their own papers based on answering each rubric question after the whole written essay is completed. By giving students a copy of the rubric’s questions, students can now use it as a checklist for their own papers before turning it in. In addition, when they later see the professor’s comments for each question on the rubric the professor fills out, the student will be able to compare and contract their way of thinking with the professor’s way.
Once again, I am grateful for all the people of this program for giving us educators more resources and assistance. It is with programs like the WID program that I feel strengthens bonds between educators and allows us to keep growing in our fields. As I told my group members and as I tell my own students - There is never a person who has mastered fully any craft or field. If such a person ever claims to have fully mastered a craft or field, that person has plateaued at a smooth edge and never realized there are miles and miles left to go on that big mountain they thought they had already conquered.

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