Saturday, April 17, 2010

The End--for Now

Thursday was my last official Teaching and Learning Center activity. For me, it's all over but the shouting--and the annual report. But not the end of this blog, which will chronicle my teaching experiences and put out questions in case people want to respond.

I have a policy. I am all business for the first 8-10 weeks of my COMM 1110 class, the one I teach the most. By then, I have "run off" (don't take that literally) the students who aren't going to stick around, either because they never planned to in the first place, or they have had personal issues (which I never condemn them for--it happened to me in a Ph.D. program), or they can't (choose not to) do the work. After that, I lighten up and shift the burden to the student. I bloviate less, leave the learning up to them, have more fun.

The nature of our students makes it unwise to lighten up any earlier than that.

What about you? do you follow a similar pattern? Or are you warm and fun all the way through? Or do you never alter your classroom demeanor (neither of which would I accuse anyone--we have far too little professionalism in the world now.)

Monday, April 12, 2010


Do you take attendance in your class? I can't imagine not, for the following reasons:

1. We are responsible for knowing when the students stopped attending, etc. for financial aid purposes.
2. I want them there to participate and listen to other students' speeches.
3. I can't trust them to make the right decision about attendance without an external motivator. I'm not proud of this one, but I do know about our current generation of students is that they do very little without an external motivator. We have created them, so we have no reason to blame them.
4. It motivates me to learn their names. After the second week I do not call role. I find that demeaning and a waste of time, and there are ways to get around it.

I understand why some instructors do not take roll, however. Yes, it's really the students' responsibilities to learn, absolutely. I agree with all that but don't plan on stopping my practice.

Next post: millennials--a myth?

Friday, April 9, 2010

Cross Disciplinary Thoughts

The biggest advantage of Teaching and Learning programs is that it causes, or allows, professors in different disciplines to leave their buildings, their wings, or departments, and talk to people who teach--and more importantly, think--in terms of different disciplines. I had a great book discussion today with a biology professor, who was the only other one who showed up. On top of that, she was from another culture. Fascinating. I learned so much. But I have also found that many academics are either unwilling to learn or listen to someone in another discipline, or frightened by the prospect of it. Or just plain intellectually lazy, or afraid some turf will be surrendered by talking to someone from across campus.

I have read the research that professors are more loyal or committed to their disciplines than to their institutions. I understand some of that. But that shouldn't prevent us from (and here's the cliche I have come to disdain) "thinking outside the box" when it comes to teaching the same students. We can learn a lot from each other.

In fact, I am having a paper published on that subject, and will perhaps put the link here soon for it.