Monday, January 10, 2011

Teaching Tip #24

Environment matters. I remember back in the 70s when it was so radical to put the classroom in a circle or let the students (high school) sit on the floor. That was the beginning of casualness in education as the norm. Comfort=effective teaching. Now people think they can't learn unless they are comfortable, but comfort can be as distracting as noncomfort.

Not to say we should make our students uncomfortable; we should create an environment that facilitates attentiveness and focus and not take it for granted. We really can't take any thing for granted anymore.

How is that done? Well, you can list a lot of rules on your syllabus, or lead them in what I consider a fake exercise in "you make up the rules." Or you can just explain that there's a reason for expectations of behavior (minimization of distractions, for example) and be honest with them. I think there's a place for disclosure!

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