Why do you teach what you teach? Why should students study what you teach? How do you help them see that? To answer this for my own discipline, I’ve been researching recent apologias for literature, defenses of reading or teaching literature written since, say, around the turn of the century.
In class discussions, students often speak only to the teacher—and the teacher responds to every point. Inspired by Stephen D. Brookfield and Stephen Preskill’s Discussion as a Way of Teaching, I’ve written a structured protocol for class discussion that gets students talking to each other. So far, it’s leads to much more give-and-take among students.
Students face strong motivations to skip or skim readings. In courses where reading is integral to the intellectual work of the discipline, that severely undermines learning. How can we get students to read and read well? In this post, I share some scenarios worth pondering and a link to an article I’ve written on teaching critical, contemplative, and active reading.
All teachers should ask: Are we doing something meaningful with our lives by teaching? If not, we can find some other work to do. If so, we can remind ourselves of why.
That awkward silence when teachers ask a question and no one answers can feel both negative and homogeneous. But is it? My perspective shifted when I asked my students about it and they gave me varied, reasonable answers for why they didn’t respond.
Many students spend too little time on learning. We should help those who need it learn how to manage their time and set priorities. We should also help, but in different ways, those whose difficult life situations put “time management” out of the question.
Students write. We comment. Nancy Sommers can help us do so more thoughtfully and skillfully. Her new book continues the work of her landmark essay on responding to student writing. Her new rule? When we comment, we should focus on the students, not just the writing, and we should only try to “teach one lesson” at a time.