28 Apr 2019 22 Comments
Connecting the Dots
I did a master in applied mathematics at Virginia Teach. I was a teaching assistant helping students understanding class material, answering their questions, and sometimes grading their exams. During the last semester in my masters’ program, I had the opportunity to teach my own class. There was a mentor for the class, and several other teaching assistants who were teaching the same class. We meet regularly, we follow the same pattern, same exams, same lessons’ plans, but everyone was responsible about preparing his own lectures, homework assignments and grading. I was very happy to teach, since that was the first time I do what I was dreaming to be: a higher education teacher.
Taking the contemporary pedagogy class changed my view about teaching. It opened my eyes to new concepts which I didn’t think about them before. It raised a lot of questions in my mind and kept me think deeply about what is teaching? How can we teach effectively? What should we consider in our teaching methodologies (diversity, inclusion, learner-centered, technology,…)? How can we assess students’ learning: assessment VS grading? It showed me the importance of critical pedagogy, the importance of problem-based learning and a lot of other interesting things.
Certainly, all of this, will help me improve my teaching style and will keep me continuously looking for strategies and ideas to become a better teacher.
April 29, 2019 @ 8:08 am
Thanks for your post! Though I have yet to teach (or assist with teaching) any classes, I am excited to apply some of the things we have learned this semester, as well. One of the elements that I’m most interested in experimenting with is traditional grading vs. other approaches to assessment. I would be interested to know which specific strategies you’re planning to apply first the next time you have an opportunity to teach and whether there are some things that we learned about this semester that you might avoid.
April 30, 2019 @ 10:54 am
Thanks for your comment Shannon! One think I might consider is instead of grading their work in a traditional way, I can set up a graded quiz, but the students can have infinite number of trials until they get the right answer (100%). However, they have to submit with it a document stating what the wrong thing they did during the first trials, and what they have learned when repeating the assignment.
April 29, 2019 @ 8:52 am
Thanks for your post! Contemporary Pedagogy has also encouraged me to think more about how I might want to create my own classroom once I get to teach. If you taught the same course again, how would you change the way you taught based on what we’ve learned? What would you consider the most important thing to share with the teaching team and to try and get them to implement?
April 30, 2019 @ 12:03 pm
Thanks for your comment Meredith. There are a lot of important things I want to try them if I will be teaching this class again. But, may be the first one is decrease the number of graded tests and homework and consider assessing the students’level of knowledge via other methods. The most important thing I want to share with the teaching team is to try to incorporate team projects in the class and apply a problem-based learning strategy.
Stephanie Gonzalez Maldonado
April 30, 2019 @ 11:47 am
I am teaching this semester, and this class made me question myself a lot about what I do in the classroom. As with your experience, I am also only responsible for lesson planning while everything is already provided and all of the TA’s have to follow the same schedule. I am looking forward to having a bit more freedom in the classroom, especially applying what we’ve learned this semester.
April 30, 2019 @ 12:06 pm
Yes Stephanie, same for me! I really want to design my own class from scratch so that I can apply what I have learned about teaching without restrictions!
April 30, 2019 @ 4:20 pm
Hi! Thank you for your post!
I have never taught any class, but I have been a tutor before. Just like you, I am certain that my teaching style will change — mostly because now I am cognizant of the fact that different students have different learning styles.
May 1, 2019 @ 10:10 am
Hi Vibhav, I agree with you about different students have different learning styles!
April 30, 2019 @ 8:11 pm
Self-reflection is the best place to start when considering how to change. We have control over us. We don’t often have control over the externalities we’re surrounded by. Here’s to good teaching, good self-reflection, and living in a way that positively impacts the people and world around you. My best,
May 1, 2019 @ 10:11 am
Thanks for your comment Gary. You are right!
April 30, 2019 @ 9:27 pm
Hi Maha! Thanks for the post and your self-reflection on critical pedagogy overall. As you know, this semester I am teaching for the first time too and wished to take our class before any teaching experience. This class does not only provide how to “start” adopting critical pedagogy in terms of PBL, creating inclusive class, how to assess but also to understand how we, both as educators and students, learn effectively. That’s why I also appreciate our class and glad that it made me make self-reflection as well. Once again, thanks for sharing your thoughts on our class:)
May 1, 2019 @ 10:20 am
Thanks for your comment Sengul. I agree with you about how the class makes us understand how we learn effectively as students and teachers.
Samuel T Sherry
April 30, 2019 @ 9:31 pm
I absolutely agree with you. As an engineering student this class opened my eyes up to a lot of concepts that I would consider foreign/ did not typically think about. I am really glad that as a class we got to collaborate on topics like diversity, inclusion, learner-centered, technology. I think it will all help us bring some modern thinking to an age old profession.
April 30, 2019 @ 10:46 pm
I also had an experience of teaching at Virginia Tech. Many issues/questions/concerns have been circling in my mind after that class. Taking contemporary pedagogy answered many of them, and as you said, raised new question to be answered in the future! Thanks for your post!
May 1, 2019 @ 8:42 am
I feel the same Maha. The course has introduced us to such interesting and creative approaches that we were completely unaware about. I am sure everyone of us will apply these learnings in our classrooms in one way or the other.
May 1, 2019 @ 10:24 am
Samuel, Negin and Adbhut, I am glad that we all took this class and benefited from it!
May 1, 2019 @ 11:26 am
I am so glad that you find Contemporary Ped. a transforming experience. I had the same feelings too when I was taking the class (for the first time). I thought that it provided me with the knowledge that was scarcely available in my own department. My experience in working with students was different from then on.
May 1, 2019 @ 1:37 pm
It is great to hear the this class has nicely coincided with your first experience teaching. It seems like it can be a little tricky with these types of classes, where you want the classes to all be the same so the students all learn the same material, but you also want to be an effective teacher who engages the students. I’m not sure how the TA structure is for these classes, but maybe you will get the chance to take the lead and help your fellow TAs use what you have learned in this course to apply to the applied math course. Thank you for the post!
May 1, 2019 @ 2:08 pm
I think you really effectively summarized some of the questions that we all have been grappling with throughout this semester. I think the interesting takeaway from your post comes down to how we answer those questions. I don’t think that we have any firm answers now, but we certainly know more than we did when we started. And, we know how to ask the important questions – just like you asked.
May 1, 2019 @ 3:02 pm
Maha, thank you for the post. As you said, this contemporary pedagogy course has made us as a teacher to think about so many questions and considerations when we design courses, teach, assess, interact with students, and so on. If we had not taken this class, it would have been much easier to deal with them, just doing things routinely. But now it is our responsibility to create a better learning environment once we knew what the right things were to focus. Good luck to us!
May 1, 2019 @ 5:16 pm
Hey Maha! Thanks for sharing. It is nice to see that this class has had a good impact on how you see teaching. I guess this course is a small step we are taking to make a difference as college professors. For me too, this class has helped to understand and improve my teaching style. I will also keep continuously looking for strategies and ways to be a better professor.
February 15, 2022 @ 6:53 am
Nice content, keep sharing with us.