I thought the readings this week were great. This was really the kind of things I was hoping to read and discuss as part of Contemporary Pedagogy: the nuts and bolts and ways we can improve our teaching. I think most of us have our idea of what a “good” teacher is from our experience as an undergrad and grad student. I think there are great things we can learn from the teachers we’ve had, but the danger is that we end up thinking those techniques define what makes a good teacher instead of a symptom of being a good teacher.
I like the idea of being our authentic self when teaching. A couple semesters ago i had a teacher who was filling in for the semester for the regular professor. He was very knowledgeable on the subject, but he chose to use the exact class notes the normal professor had used for years. It was quite evident that the class notes did not match up with how he would have taught the class. You could see him fighting with himself at times and also getting lost. I remember one day, though, where he kind of stopped and decided “I’m going to teach this the way I would like to teach it” and the difference was palpable. He clearly was more enthusiastic about what he was saying and his enthusiasm rubbed off on us and was motivation to pay more attention. I think it’s important to remember that there are lots of ways to be an effective teacher, but they will only be effective if they suit us as teachers.
I was going to end there, but I was thinking of things that were a little out there but helped me be more engaged in class. One I thought of was a professor who had “80s movie trivia” every Friday or so. It was awesome, even though I knew almost none of them 🙂 Just a small, 1 minute-long something to break up an hour-long class session and get people re-engaged. I might have to switch to “2010s movie trivia” for my students, but maybe it’s worth a try.