Tuesday, December 16, 2014

In defense of lecturing, final thought

Earlier I posted on this subject, and going over my research notes for the dissertation has led me to a further comment.  Just like in the Mommy Wars there is an implication that mothers who breastfeed, grow organic vegetables, homeschool, or whatever trendy thing is being advocated, that these mothers are better and love their children more, there is a strong implication that professors who do not lecture, who use active learning techniques, etc. are more committed to student learning and somehow more concerned about the humanity of the students or some such thing.  If you are on the NO LECTURE side of this issue, you are not going to win any friends who lecture by implying that they are not concerned about students.  Don't go there.

Also, if you do not require writing in your classes, or you only require writing as process or reflection (that is, you do not grade for form or quality, only existence of the writing), tread very carefully when you are around English or history professors.  You might get more than you bargained for.

Friday, October 17, 2014

In Defense of Lecturing, Part III

I have posted two blogs on Defense of Lecturing.  Now I will take the other side of the argument—an expose or attack on lecturing.

First, lecturing can be lazy.  Not in the sense that it doesn’t take a lot out of you and there isn’t any energy expended.  On the contrary, lecturing take a lot of physical effort, especially the way some of us do it.  I am quite active and animated.  I am known for it.  But I also tell my students that I could lecture in my sleep.  That’s an exaggeration, but not really.   I have given some of the lectures hundreds of times, at least. 

It is human nature to default to the easy, and sometimes I cherish  and look forward to those day when I get to go in, give that lecture I know backwards and forwards, for which I have all the jokes and stories and timing down, and that I know is pretty effective and clear.  It gives me comfort, in a sense.  “I can do this.  They like me, I’m funny and entertaining, and they get it.”  And they do like it  They can be passive, they know exactly what to write down for the lecture notes, I’m funny, and I give them stretch breaks.  Everybody is happy.

Maybe. 

Maybe they are too passive, maybe they think I'm canned, maybe they wonder why I can't just write out the lecture, maybe their minds are everywhere else but there, in the class, in the moment.  And maybe I have defaulted to laziness.

That’s why we have to be teaching and developing new courses. 
That’s why every two years, at the least, we need to re-do PowerPoints, rethink the structure of lectures, really critique our approach to the lecture, really question our assumptions about the material and what I would call the syntax of the content—its method or order of being presenting.

The second argument against lecturing as a primary or sole method of teaching is that it violates communication methods.  Today I sat through a presentation on ESL students, a field that has all kinds of acronyms and I am probably using the wrong ones.  The presenter said a number of helpful things,but the one that rang truest for me was that people telling you they understand, or implying it, is often meaningless.  They smile and say they do, but they don’t know what they don’t know.  This is perhaps the worst thing about lecture.  Its unidirectionalness, its one-wayness, doesn’t allow for much admission, forced or otherwise, from the audience that they don’t understand.

When a political speaker wants to address an audience, he or she studies the audience, has researchers who gather data on the audience, and he/she crafts a message based on what would best reach the audience (or, of course, hires a speechwriter to do so).  A lecturer must take the same approach—before delivering a lecture, the lecturing professor must understand the demographics of class.  Example, and one related to the presentation today.  Much of our humor and storytelling is based on cultural and even pop cultural references that go over the head of people—of a different age, gender, ethnicity, and language—and we don’t even know it. 

The third argument against lecturing is that some of us don’t do it well, or as well as we think.  How do I mean that critique?  Some of us have monotone voices, or are very soft spoken and are just plain hard to hear.  We do not command interest very well as speakers.  To depend on lecture is to depend on your public speaking skills, which do not relate just to vocal skills but also to structure, creativity of examples, transitions, energy, storytelling, and sensitivity to audience feedback.  Some of us just have other strengths. So does that mean we shouldn’t be teaching?  No, it means we who have lesser skills in public speaking should not be depending on lecture very much. 

Which brings us to the question, are we as good at lecturing as we think we are?  Have we watched ourselves? Have we let others watch us and offer valid critique to which we are open?

On a related note, good oral communication skills are even more important in light of the diversity of our classroom.  In one class last year I had five Latino students (from different countries), one Kurd, one Viet Namese student—and this is a small Southern city!  I can’t list all the nations that have been represented in my class at this particular college, but let me try:  Dominican Republic, Cuba, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Venezuela, Mexico, El Salvador, China, Nigeria, Nepal, Cuba, Brazil, Haiti, Canada, Viet Nam, Kurdistan, Ghana, Spain, Panama, India, Pakistan—21 and counting.  And most of them spoke English quite well but as a second language.  I know they appreciated that I spoke loudly and clearly, because they were struggling enough with the new environment.

So, let me give some advice on lecturing:
  • Be purposeful.  Use lecture ON PURPOSE, for good reason.
  • Tie the lecture into clear objectives.  Answer the so what question. 
  • Be organized.  Have a beginning, middle, and end.  Don’t stop in mid-sentence because the time is up.  Don’t walk into class talking, dump your books, and expect the students to catch up.  Grab attention, state an overview, use transitions, and end with a clincher.
  • Don’t cover the material, uncover it (I know, that’s a cliche, but it’s still good advice).  What does that mean?  Ask questions and interact, focus on the text, ask honest questions that you don’t have prefab answers to, listen.
  • Lecture 20 minutes, do something short to let them clear their minds or refocus, preferably an activity or even a physical thing (it’s just not good to sit for longer than an hour, for anyone), and then go for another 20 minutes.  Our periods are 75 minutes long, so I could do that 3 times.
  • Tell stories—but not your life story.  Too many lecturers actually do a monologue about themselves in class.  My mother died this summer and I have mentioned it two or three times in my lecture, but I did it in the context of communication and how to approach specific assignments.  One of them is a tribute speech, and I always tell them that if they want to tribute an older family member, to sit down, interview the person, and also videotape them—and I tell a story about my mother.  A little self-disclosure is a good thing, but as I have written on this blog elsewhere, it has its limits in lecturing.
  • Don’t use PowerPoint everyday; use it for the visual capabilities; DO NOT put big chunks of text to read to the students.  Again, the worst method is the one you use all the time.  (I hope it is understood that the fault is the lack of variety, not the method itself; it’s not a literal statement) 
  • Have a continuous quality improvement attitude toward your lecturing.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

In Defense of Lecturing, Part II

There are of course many arguments for and against lecturing. In interviewing more than twenty faculty members at my college, one of the main reasons for a dependence on lecturing was “so much material to cover.”  In some cases the covering of so much material is mandated by state standards or accreditation necessities; for example, Anatomy and Physiology, the bane of pre-nursing students.  Students cannot legitimately be expected to learn material that is not discussed in class.  Lecturing is an efficient way to do that, using visuals like PowerPoint, either provided by the textbook company or teacher-created.

A second argument is that the students like it.  They see the professor as doing his or her job by showing up and “teaching” what will be on the test.  In talking to nursing professors, this was particularly the case.  Since there is a high stakes test for nursing students at the end of their course, it is vital for them that they be ready for the test.  They want the needed material “covered” so that they can pass the test.  “Learning activities” are well and good, but they can’t work as a nurse without passing the boards, so they expect no less from the instructors.

Many professors report that students complain and resist the “flipped” classroom and “problem-based” learning approaches.  With some cajoling they might get on board, but the students recognize that, even if the teacher claims they will learn more, that a non-lecture approach is much harder work for them. 

A third argument is “this is what we do” either as professors in a discipline or as professors period.  The students, consequently, should adjust to that, rather than the professors adjusting to them. real

A fourth argument is that only bad lecturing is a bad teaching method.  Some of us are really good lecturers and presenters; we can keep an audience engaged, can sense lagging and know intuitively what to do about it.  We are funny, organized, and know our students.  And some of us aren’t. 

Finally, some concepts just have to be explained orally as well as read about.  Plain and simple.  And some students learn better that way. 

But I am going to take this to a different level.  Lecturing is really a matter of epistemology.  How is knowledge “made” and what is it?  Ever since Paolo Freire termed old-fashioned lecturing as the “banking model” of education (banking, of course, being bad), and ever since constructivism became the flavor of the month, knowledge construction has been seen as existing in the personal realm rather than an initiation into a body of knowledge.

I use the term little-k knowledge for this personal knowledge, which may or may not be congruent with communal, disciplinary big-k knowledge, or Knowledge, just as there is for some “truth” and “Truth,” distinguishing personal belief and value systems from absolute, eternal truths.  Constructivism is a workable theory to some extent but has its limitations; I think the students recognize this.  They can do lots of activities to “construct knowledge,” but is it a stacked deck?  Are they supposed to come to the same conclusions through the activities that the teacher would give them in a lecture?  So, from their standpoint, what is the point? 

I have been guilty of asking questions that are supposed to make them think but really just think my way, just come to my conclusions.  That is disingenuous, to say the least. Why pretend to be “constructing knowledge” through clever, engaging activities? 

Of course, I am creating a straw man of the “flipped classroom” just like others make straw men of lecturers.  It is arguable that less, but deeper, learning may take place with methods other than lecturing.  How much learning is enough?  In some classes the professor has the freedom not to teach all the chapters in a book; some do not have that freedom, because the students must be ready for the next course in the sequence. The expert I mentioned in the previous post is in this situation; an accounting teacher doesn’t have that out. 

I think it’s time to stop with the shaming of lecturers.  Shame never gets you anywhere.  The lecturers will only entrench themselves.  They may be doing a better job of facilitating student learning than others.  It’s also time to stop the either-or thinking. 

I go back to what I heard at a Sunday School teaching seminar.  The worst teaching method is the one you use all that time.  I confess to lecturing, and I confess to trying to create engagements, something that I wake up at 3:00 a.m. sometimes to work out in my head.  Good teachers don’t stop teaching at the end of the course period.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

In Defense of Lecturing, Part I


This article also appears on my general interest blog, partsofspeaking.blogspot.com



Before I begin this article, which may be considered a reflection, a polemic, or a diatribe, depending on the reader’s viewpoint, and which to be is an honest exploration of an important topic in higher education, I feel I should give my credentials for writing about this subject.

If there is anything I know about, it is college teaching.  I have been doing it since  January 1978.  That is 37 years come January, and that is a long time by most accounts. Yes, I started at 22 (not kidding there).  I have taught in private colleges, technical and community colleges, a university, and a four-year state college.  In most cases, the institutions were more or less open-access. I have, by my accounting, taught over 20 different courses over the years.  I have also taught many of them in hybrid or online versions and developed a number of online/hybrid courses.  Here is my list:
Business Communication at freshmen and junior levels
English 1102
English 1101
World Lit I and II
History of Oratory
Communication Theory
Persuasion
Small Group Communication
Fundamentals of Speech (a lot!)
Human Communication
Humanities I and II
Playwriting
Epublishing
First Year Experience
Developmental Reading and English
Business English

Finally, I have been the director of a teaching and learning center, edit a journal on the subject, and am earning an Ed.D. in Adult Learning.  Consequently, I spend a great deal of time thinking and practicing epistemology. I think I am qualified to weigh in on this subject, which may seem minimal in importance to some but is vital to any who enter a college classroom to conduct learning experiences.

The impetus of this article is two-fold.  I receive a newsletter from a well-known speaker and writer on college pedagogy, a woman who holds conferences and whose work I have read and whom I have heard speak.  I will not mention her name, although many will recognize her by the description.  I forwarded this newsletter to two colleagues who I had often heard bemoan the fact that presenters and “experts” on teaching and learning berate the lecture as the world’s worst way to teach. 

The irony is that many of these speakers basically lecture the college faculty for two to three hours in order to communicate how bad lecturing is.  One of these colleagues teaches communication, the other history.  They shared that, basically, they were tired of hearing lectures treated as horrible and would like to hear presenters or “experts” talk about good lecturing.  As one stated, they set up a straw man, invariably showing the clip of Ben Stein monotonously calling for “Bueller, Bueller” or the classic Father Guido Sarducci “Twenty-Minute University.”  “This,” we are told, “is lecturing, and of course, this is bad.”  Bad because it reduces students to slobbering, somnolent, and stupefied and results long term in no real learning.

Straw man, indeed.  AT this point I will invoke a speaker I heard at a Sunday School teaching conference a few years back.  “The worst teaching method is the one you use all the time.” 

My thesis is, then, that lecturing is good, if done well and engagingly and not used exclusively (perhaps not more than 75% of instructional time, depending on the student level and discipline.)  However, in today’s constructivist, collaborative, student-centered-learning environment, 75% is seen as wildly extreme for lecture.  The author of the aforementioned newsletter wrote that lecture might be useful occasionally, that some things just need to be explained sometimes.  She allowed as lecture might actually relate to some students’ learning styles.  But it was clear from this article that it pained her to write that.  Of course, she is all about “a different type of learning.”  She has a monetary investment in lecturing being fruitless as a teaching method.

I am going to stop here.  Tomorrow I will post about the origins of this “lecture BAD” mentality, followed by reflections on why lectures could be effective and/or ineffective and what to do about the lecture problem. 

I write all this as someone who lectures and who does it, from what I have been told, fairly well.  But I also use lots of collaborative activities and expect the dreaded “group work.”  In teaching hybrid classes, I try to approximate the “flipped classroom” model, sometimes successfully, sometimes not.  So I am not emotionally tied to lecture as the main or only way to teach.  I just believe it is unfair, discouraging, and counter-productive to tell good faculty and engaging lecturers that they are hurting their students by doing what they do best.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Life Changes

As I wrote on my other blog, I am now pretty much a full-time caregiver for my mother.  Other than teaching my classes and trying to finish my doctorate, right now I don't have the time or opportunity to do much else.  Perhaps I will come back to this in a few months; college teaching and learning and faculty development are my life's work.  Please look at the archives for many helps on these subjects.  Until then, enjoy.

Sunday, June 1, 2014

Fear and Learning

I think about fear a lot.  I think fear explains our lives a lot more than we let it.

I teach public speaking; tomorrow night my class is giving their first speeches and I have gotten the anxious emails about it.  One thing I am good at is making a comfortable atmosphere; however, I think there is also something to be said for just throwing them into the water and letting them sink or swim.  They almost always swim; it might not be a pretty breaststroke that will get them the gold medal, but they make it.

Some learning theorists encourage that viewpoint.  Even Vygotsky's zone of proximal development is somewhat along that line. 

I am now reading Parker Palmer's and Arthur Zajonc's book The Heart of Higher Education, which is partially a defense of integrative education.  What is that?  It's trying to get away from classroom-based, textbook-based, banking model (I call it tea pitcher model) type of education.  One argument against these methods is that it is messy.

I don't like messy but I can't seem to avoid it.  My dissertation is messy:  the methodology of action research is messy, the subject matter is messy (and somewhat dynamic), my participants have messy live.  I try to clean my house and not live in squalor but messy just happens.

Yes, messy just happens.  Entropy, perhaps?

Back to the point, in public speaking they read out of the book and take online quizzes and such, but they have to come face to face with the thing they hate.  Some disciplines do that more than others;  I remember dissecting a frog in high school, and I think of my colleagues who work with snakes!  (There was a black snake in my yard two days ago, minding its own business, but like Emily Dickinson, I still get zero in the bone when I see snakes).  Students have to touch and come face to face with the "other," "the hated," in some disciplines, and that is one of our greatest fears.  No wonder people fear learning.  But it is the only way, really.  If we stay in our comfort zones, we do not learn--we just get solidified and entrenched in what we (think we) already know.

Good speaker on TTBOOK.org today talked about belief and fear.  He suggested that the next time you are confronted with an idea you disagree with, see how it's affecting your bodily emotions.  That may mean the disagreement is coming from someplace other than rationality,purely thought of.  

Friday, May 30, 2014

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Fear and Teaching

As mentioned here or elsewhere, I am working through Parker Palmer's The Courage to Teach.  It is a must read, but I don't think it would speak to young teachers, someone in their twenties.  It is for people who have taught at least a decade and have enough life experience for what he writes to resonate with them.  It is both a wise and spiritual book.  I hope to write half so good something about teaching  in the future, and I plan to use the book as a basis for a learning community in the fall, related to my dissertation.

The chapter on fear and the Student from Hell so resonated with me that I am still in awe.  My students are fearful, and sometimes they hide it with bravado, rudeness, seclusion, avoidance.  I am fearful, too, stupidly of student evaluations.  So much is put on those that we good teachers are afraid to challenge.  I don't mean like the colleague who told his students to get their heads out of the a---. I mean to avoid pandering and putting a mirror up to them about their world.

As mentioned before, I am taking a class at UGA I am not particularly fond of, but I am working through that and learning anyway.  What has surprised me most is my classmates' lack of knowledge of the world; if these doctoral students don't know about China's one child policy, if they don't know what's going on in Syria, if they don't know why the U.S. should be concerned about Putin and the Ukraine (and these are serious questions brought up in class), how can I expect my students or Joe Blow on the street to care.  What the hell is wrong with us?  Why are we so self-absorbed?

I am reading, slowly, through Sherry Turkle's Alone Together, which could be called Fearful New World.  As a communication scholar, it's scaring me to death.  In Human Communication class the other day, (it's a very basic course) the chapter I was teaching was on Mass Media (from Julia T. Wood's book, Mosaics, which I highly recommend), and my lecture was the five theories of mass media's influence on us.  I started by having the students write on the board the TV shows they watched on a regular basis over the last three years.  What a collection--almost nothing I would watch (but I watch almost no TV anyway).  Then after the lecture I asked which theory explained their viewing.  They wanted to say Uses and Gratification theory, but it was clear to me it was cumulative effects.  They watch shows that have over the years caused them to not be shocked by anything!  So I said that.  I was not afraid to, and I think that is the difference between pandering and engaging, between being courageous and being fearful of what you will be thought of and that it might affect teacher evals.  This is why I hope, and think, that tenure will go away, and why we need better methods of evaluating teaching.  More on that later.

At the same time, I have been an incredibly fearful and wimpy teacher at times, more times fearful than courageous.


Monday, April 7, 2014

Power in the Classroom, revisited

Parker Palmer writes:  We collaborate with the structures of separation because they promise to protect us against one of the deepest fears at the heart of being human--the fear of having a living encounter with alien "otherness," whether the other is a student, a colleague, a subject, or a self-dissenting voice within.  We fear encounters in which the others is free to be itself, to speak its own truth, to tell us what we may not wish to hear.  We want those encounters on or own terms, so that we can control their outcomes, so that they will not threaten our view of world and self."  (p. 37)

This is a big answer to the previous post.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Power in the Classroom

I have been enrolled in a doctoral program in adult education for almost two years now.  My gpa is 3.96 or so and I am ahead of all my cohort on the dissertation, which we are supposed to write during the classwork, a difficult process.  I am taking a day off today having spent the last two days at class and struggling with something.

I did not expect this doctoral experience to change me as much as it has.  I have been in the classroom 35 years and have been taught to examine a lot of my assumptions.  I was always rather self-critical, so examining and questioning my professional practice is a good and welcome and rather natural thing.  However, there is only so much self-criticism one can endure until one feels like her self or his self is being sucked away.  So I end up backing off, being angry that I am expected to change, especially when the person asking me to change is hardly in a position to do so.

One issue that has hit me this semester is the power of the professor in the classroom.  I have a professor for whom I waver between contempt and pity.  This person is wasting my time, dramatically.   I won't go any further than that.  I want to stand up in class and tell this person off, but this person would block my forward progression, and although I am pretty sure my classmates would agree with me to some extent, they would not stand behind me.

This person has power over me because I have agreed to let it be so.  I wanted something and did not realize that the process of getting it would mean having to subject myself to such things.  I see why it is important that young people are careful about where they go to college and to whom they submit themselves.  I am an adult with pretty fixed viewpoints, but this person has assumed power over my viewpoints and misrepresented them publicly.  I have little recourse for the anger I feel, but it's  spiritual problem and I will seek a spiritual answer.

So many college professors define critical thinking as "agreement with me."  It goes no further than that.  They misuse their power, small as it is.  Maybe they realize how minute their power is and therefore wield it as much as they can.  

The point:  pray for this person; the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous person (and I'm only righteous because of grace) accomplishes much.  I have been discouraged lately that it seems that the Christian faith holds me responsible for other people's spiritual state.  First of all, it does not; that's nonsense, despite all the preaching.  I am also discouraged that so many of those around me have intractable viewpoints.  Again, they don't, they only seem so.  I am encouraged to pray and leave it at that.

All this has made me more conscious of my own possible use of power in the classroom, although I like to think I don't misuse it.  I may be wrong, at least at times.  To eschew any classroom power is also to shirk responsibility. 

Monday, March 24, 2014

How to Improve Your Student Evaluations

I have taught college classes for thirty-five years.  Yikes.  I like to think I have learned a few things in that time.  One of these days I'll write it all down (and like a good academic, provide theoretical and evidence based support for it).  But today I'll focus on anecdotal data.

When I came to my current position, I was told that I had to earn 4.6 or higher on my student evaluations to advance professionally.  I had always gotten 4.4 to 4.5 or so, and thought that was pretty good.  Certainly I wasn't expected to be perfect!  Yet some of our professors did get 5s, rather frequently. I balked at this like everyone else, but took on the challenge eventually--not willingly, but having to.  I did a lot of reading about the subject, although I doubt anyone could really read the volumes on it.  Five years ago I read a meta-analysis published in the late '90s on the subject, and at that time there were 3,000 academic articles on the subject.  I read 30, 1%, and thought that was enough!  Obviously, faculty and administrators have a lot to say about student evaluations, pro and con.

Next week I have to turn in my portfolio for performance evaluation, and I had not looked at my evaluations from the fall.  Ours are done online, so I just had to do a few clicks to find it.  I had put it off because (a) I am extraordinarily busy with doctoral work and teaching five classes and (b) I did not have a good semester with a couple of classes and just didn't want to face the music.  But, since I had to look at them to finish out the portfolio, I finally did last Friday.  Happily, they were pretty good.  Over the year period of January to December 2013, I had taught fourteen classes (yes, summer and overload) and the average, was 4.78.  Not too bad.  I had two 5s, 3 4.9s, and assorted other grades.  The lowest was 4.3, which was not surprising for that class. 

Since coming to this institution, I have managed to achieve the 4.6 or higher, but not without work.  So here are some thoughts about what I did to improve.

1.  The smaller the class, for me, the better, because I can provide more individual attention to students.  This is not always true, because if you have ten students in a class and 1 of them is incredibly unhappy with you, it will skew the averages.
2.  Smile.
3.  Be approachable.  What does this vague adjective mean?  See #2 when a student comes up to you, and put off saying no to a request until after you explain why. Fairness to other students is a good reason, versus your own convenience.  In other words, "If I give you extra time on this assignment, that is not fair to the students who have worked hard to get it in on time," vs.  "I don't want to grade your late work."
4.  Be in your office when you are supposed to be.
5.  Answer your emails.  I am masterful at this, truly.  At least give them a time frame and an idea of when you won't (like Sundays).
6.  Try not to teach first semester freshmen.  They are (a) enthralled with the idea that they can evaluate their teachers and (b) don't have a frame of reference for what they are looking for.  They may think it's acceptable to play with their cell phones in class or that the teacher should return emails within an hour.  I have found that second semester and further on students get it.
7.  Start class on time.  Many professors think the students just want to get out early; well, they do, but if you are holding them past time because you showed up ten minutes late, that's not right.
8.  Have policies in writing and enforce them uniformly.
9.  Be strict, no-nonsense, and by-the-book the first month or two of the semester, and then lighten up.  This way, the slackers will drop the class early on, and the serious students will stick around.  Then, when the student have to fill out the evaluations in the last three weeks of the semester, they have seen your lighter side, have forgotten the harsh side, and only the serious ones will be evaluating you anyway.
10.  Turn work back within a week, as much as possible.  Feedback that takes longer than that really won't help their learning.
11.  Be self-reflective about whether you treat certain types of students better than others.  Males vs. females; nontrads vs. trads; slackers vs. serious. 
12.  Accept that the students have an opinion.  Although most of us believe that student evaluations are a limited, indirect form of assessment, they aren't going away.  The students are not clueless about how they learn and how you conduct the class.  They have a different perspective, that's all. 
13.  Train your students to complete the evaluation. For example, one of our items is "did the teacher let you ask questions."  Point out to them when you are letting them ask questions.  I even say, "Later you are going to evaluate the class (not me) and one of the questions is, did she let you ask questions.  Well, I am, right now."
14.  Regularly give the students a sense of where you are in the class, what's coming up due.  This will require some repetition but it works.
15.  Finally, if you get 100 good comments and one crappy one, don't get all jacked out of shape about it.  One student from last semester said I was "a horrible teacher" "who did nothing but talk about herself. "  I can say, "What an idiot" or let it slide, conclude that that student was having a bad day, was hearing something no one else was hearing, had trouble with female authority, didn't think any self-disclosure was appropriate, etc.  I can't help but wonder what led to that comment, but it's not keeping me up late.  I would hope that after 35 years of doing this that one complaint would not derail me.

Notice that none of these things I have written here have anything to do with dumbing down the class, totally abandoning lectures, providing study guides for tests, flipping the classroom, using student response systems, what you do the first day, letting them get into groups, etc.  I am all for those things (well, not the first), but each of us approaches teaching in our own way.  I am getting a doctorate in Adult Education and my dissertation is about faculty development, and I ran a Teaching and Learning Center for three years, so I'm pretty well read on this subject.  Lecturing a lot works for some, not for others.  Clickers are great for big classes.

We have to respect how each of us teaches but at the same time be reflective about our prejudices toward teaching.  I have learned from my research that many of us teach the way we were taught and the methods by which we learn.  That's not a complete way to approach what we do.

I am reading The Courage to Teach and being truly blessed by it.