Pedagogical Style

This week our pedagogy course and my department’s teaching seminar were very complementary. On Wednesday I took the option to hear Bettina Love speak followed by the faculty panel and I am really glad I did. Not only was Dr. Love’s lecture amazing and powerful, the panel gave me a lot to think about.

During the panel Dr. Love was saying how she likes to kill her students with kindness. She tries to be open and flexible with her students. However, that is always within her own pedagogical strategies. Dr. Perez from computer science was also on the panel and he made a comment about doing something similar with deadlines for his students, where they can turn something in until he is done grading them. He also said that deadlines are not make or break for jobs. For them and their pedagogical styles and philosophies are open and flexible.

Those comments and thoughts made me think as it always does when people ask me why I am so strict on deadlines and following instructions with my students. Something I feel is important in every course I teach no matter what the content is to help students develop skills that will last them a lifetime no matter what discipline they are in or what career trajectory they have. Two skills that are important for applying to a job, working at a job, and simple life skill is how to read instructions, which often include deadlines. I have seen people have trouble obtaining work because these skills had not been developed, even with a bachelor’s degree. However, that does not mean that I never budge from deadlines for students. I am aware that life happens (believe me I went through my fair share of life in undergrad). I prefer to be upfront about the fact that I am strict about deadlines and work with students one on one as things come up. It is easier for me to be hard at the beginning and lighten up as the semester happens when need be.

Thursday morning my department has our teaching seminar, which this week was a big group session of all the current graduate instructors. This week we were discussing student feedback in the form of SPOTs and informal evaluations. This was in part to prepare the new instructors with what to expect and tricks those of us who had received them before had used when trying to process them. One discussion that we had was what to do with the feedback we receive. And in many ways that is a tough one, especially for those of us who are people pleasers. As we were talking I came back to Wednesday night’s panel and how in the end it is about what fits with us and our style and philosophy. Of course we should take note of student’s feedback rather than ignore it because we are the “experts”. But as has been pointed out time and time again, we can’t please everyone and each student has a different view of what we do. In the end I feel like we should be proud of the way we taught the course and that it fits with us and our end goals, with the students still in mind.


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