The secret dot

So, we are at the end of the semester.  We have discussed many topics related to contemporary pedagogy. We have seen new methods, out-of-the-box ideas in education, and different point of views for some issues.

The question you should ask yourself is, “With all these different ways for every aspect, how can I come up with a good strategy to adopt?”, putting in simpler words “Which dots I have to connect?”. If you have just dots without a plan you will end up having something like this.


A punch of beautiful strategies (unnumbered dots) that you don’t know which ones to use and the outcome of connecting those ones.

You need to have something solid to build on. Let me tell you the secret dot that if you started from, you will be able to achieve what you want. The secret dot is the center point that if you started from, you will find your way.


The center point is like the secret ingredient of the secret-ingredient soup.

Which is nothing BUT you. You need to believe in what you do. If you are going to be a professor or a teacher, you need first to believe in the message you want to deliver. Starting from this, you can then pick what you feel suitable for your personality and your audience. You may try something that does not work well, so you will pick another dot (another strategy) and try it. As long as you have enthusiasm to do what you do, your audience will get what you want.

Not everyone was bore talented in teaching, so don’t worry about that. But people who seeks to be good teachers will be. Getting feedback from students is very helpful. I know a professor at Virginia Tech  who gives students extra credit for competing an evaluation survey at the end of the semester. This is his own designed survey as he wants always to be better at the classroom. He wants to ensure that everyone gets what he illustrates.

11 thoughts on “The secret dot

  1. Great post! I really like how you relates the Kong Fu panda and putting together what we’ve learnt in the semester. It makes a lot of sense that the secret ingredient is ourselves. We need to start from our authentic teaching self, and then explore deeper and further until we finally develop our own unique but useful teaching method. Thanks!

  2. What a wonderful post to remind us that we have that magic inside us! Your post was encouraging and makes me want to go watch some more Kung Fu Panda!

  3. Thank you for the post and the clip. The panda, as always, is brilliant.

    I think we can take the panda and the VT professor’s examples to extrapolate that special teaching involves believing that the students are special.

  4. Thanks for the post. I appreciate the analogy as we have received a lot of information over the semester. And it does sort of seem a little overwhelming at first to try and figure out where to start. Just like some of the readings we have read throughout the semester, you remind us that the best place to start is within yourself. Deciding what your goals and ideals are. Being true to your own standards is so important. Once you begin there, you can start to use all the tools we have been given to mold or craft your teaching style to achieve the ultimate goal of creating active, engaged learners.

  5. “People who seeks to be good teachers will be”

    I love this and completely agree! We can talk strategies all day, but having a passion for teaching is one of the key ingredients for teaching!

    1. A very encouraging post! I know my dots often look like those in your first figure. In grad school, we gain so many skills from so many different experiences. Giving direction to these skills is not always easy. I always have to remind myself why I committed to this degree in the first place. The answer is, I love to teach! When I remember this, my “dots” begin to realign.

  6. What a great post!! I love the connect the dots analogy. At the beginning of the semester, that is exactly how I felt when I thought about teaching, a bunch of random unconnected dots. As I am revising my syllabus and teaching philosophy, I will certainly keep the image of the center dot in mind. Thank you for sharing and being part of this experience.

  7. I loved it. I definitely think that your second paragraph nailed the challenge that now faces us: how do we take all these strategies and ideas that we’ve discussed and dissected over the semester and adapt them to fit our particular situations and our particular disciplines? An approach that is very effective for a senior writing class may not be directly transferable to a freshman biology class, but that doesn’t mean the idea behind that approach or the spirit of the strategy can’t translate.

  8. Great points thank you for sharing Abdelrahman! I think that the most importing thing that we have to do is to find our teaching personality knowing our strengths, weaknesses and capabilities… I think the most important thing about this course is that it gives you general guidelines and things to think about, while it also allows you to explore who you want to be as a teacher! I think connecting these guidelines with our teaching personality is key.

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