Teaching statement

"Sobald man in einer Sache Meister geworden ist,
soll man in einer neuen Schüler werden" - G. Hauptmann

The introductory quote by Hauptmann is seminal for my own teaching philosophy. For me, teaching and learning are closely linked and I see learning and personal development as a lifelong process. My goal is not to drill preconceived knowledge into students' heads, but to let each student experience literature in their way and develop their own critical position on the texts covered in class. The goal is to integrate everyone and to create a working atmosphere in which each student can develop freely and contribute their ideas without prejudice. This should lead to a fruitful exchange, in which everyone can learn something from everyone else and always becomes a new "student" (cf. also Reusser 1995, p. 167). I do not see myself as THE teacher, but rather as a kind of mentor who supports the students at all times and provides them with the necessary tools, but lets them develop independent critical thinking. In doing so, I only provide impulses when it is really necessary. Finally, I myself repeatedly take on the role of a pupil who learns from and with his students (cf. Gerber 2011, pp. 242-243).

Of particular importance in my own teaching is dealing with student heterogeneity. I follow an integrative approach that tries to consider diversity in all its forms. This includes, first of all, gender-appropriate and non-discriminatory language and methods. For me, this is not a matter of social "oversensitivity." A gender-just and discrimination-free language is much more than a linguistic gimmick –this is only the tip of the iceberg–, namely much more of a worldview and a philosophy that lies behind it –that is, the part of the iceberg that remains hidden–. For me, it means taking into account and including different individuals, so that everyone feels part of my courses and sees themselves as part of the group. In terms of methods, I am particularly concerned with choosing textual analyses that express social diversity in the best possible way (texts by authors of different backgrounds and gender, members of the LGBTQ community, migrants, etc.) and that address and critique different forms of stereotyping. I also try to accommodate the various types of learners through a variety of methods, including both theoretical and practical student-centered methods (text analysis, tandem and group work, writing workshops, presentations, etc.), and the use of different media (print media as well as new technologies: inclusion of course wikis, blogs, podcasts, etc.) (cf. Spaine Long 2009, p. 170).

Another important cornerstone of my teaching is mutual respect. I expect the same from my students. I also welcome a high level of commitment and the demand for continuous development. Mistakes are very welcome, because they serve to learn from them. In order to maintain a healthy approach to mistakes, I use a transparent and comprehensible feedback culture, so that a regular assessment can be made and the development potential of the students can be shown (cf. Hattie & Timperley 2007). Already during the semester, I guide the students to provide each other with constructive feedback based on a jointly developed criteria grid, and they also receive feedback from me at regular intervals on completed assignments. I also use various quizzes and discussions to determine individual learning levels. In terms of assessment philosophy, I place great emphasis on ensuring that students know what to expect from the beginning of the semester (with the help of clearly formulated learning objectives), that they are equipped with the necessary tools to work towards them (with a variety of methods and media), and that they are able to achieve them at the end of the semester (assessment of learning success, etc.). It is not only about passing the summative evaluation, but also about the students being able to take the acquired competences with them for their further studies and to apply them later on in the working world.

In order to have the teaching evaluated already during the semester, I have used so-called "Classroom Assessment Techniques" (cf. Angelo & Cross 1993) such as the expectation survey (cf. Bastian, Combe & Langer 2007). At the beginning of the semester, students can be asked what they expect from the course and the instructor. Although the instructor should be able to anticipate some of the "expectations," this inquiry allows them to tailor their teaching more precisely to the needs of the students. Around the middle of the semester, a joint interim assessment can be made to see to what extent the expectations have already been met or not. At the end of the semester, an additional question about expectations can be integrated into the evaluation form (e.g. Were the expectations you had at the beginning fulfilled during the course of the semester? Why yes/no?). In the future, I would like to make even more use of such "Assessment Techniques", such as the One-Minute-Paper (one-minute writing down of the most important aspects) or the Muddiest Point (what remained unclear in the lesson), etc. (cf. Angelo & Cross 1993).

In summary, the following teaching convictions can be derived:
  1. Learning and personal development is a lifelong process, which is why it is important as a teacher to look through the students' eyes and anticipate different learner-centered difficulties in the best possible way (e.g., with the help of empirical values, professional literature or assessments [Muddiest Point]).
  2. My role as an instructor is not to drill preconceived information into students heads', but to let them construct their own knowledge by activating them and allowing them to experience Spanish language and literature.
  3. The learning settings are designed in such a way that individuality and diversity are taken into account and encouraged, for example through the use of gender-sensitive methods and methods appropriate to learning types.
  4. The feedback culture is characterized by transparency and is discussed accordingly with the students so that they know what the specific requirements are, what they can expect from the lessons and how they can develop further.

  • Angelo, T. A. & Cross, K. P. (1993). Classroom Assessment Techniques: A Handbook for College Teachers. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Bastian, J., Combe, A. & Langer, R. (2007). Feedback-Methoden. Erprobte Konzepte, evaluierte Erfahrungen. Weinheim / Basel: Beltz.
  • Gerber, A. (2011). Ein Lehrportfolio zur formativen Selbstevaluation. In: Wehr, S. & Tribelhorn, T. (Hg.). Bolognagerechte Hochschullehre. Beiträge aus der hochschuldidaktischen Praxis. Bern: Haupt. S. 239-254.
  • Hattie, J. & Timperley, H. (2007). The Power of Feedback. Review of Educational Research. 77. 1. S. 81-112.
  • Reusser, K. (1995). Lehr- und Lernkultur im Wandel. Zur Neuorientierung in der kognitiven Lernforschung. In: Dubs, R. & Dörig, R. (Hg.). Dialog Wissenschaft und Praxis. Berufsbildungstage St. Gallen. St. Gallen: Institut für Wirtschaftspädagogik. S. 164-190.
  • Spaine Long, S. (2009). Foreign Languages and Literature. In: Seldin, P. & Miller, E. (Hg.). The Academic Portfolio: A Practical Guide to Documenting Teaching, and Research. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass. S. 167- 180.