The second album

This week, because of the readings and my experience in the class I am teaching, I have been reminded that my teaching style will evolve and change and I should celebrate that.  I think my teaching style is starting to change, or at least the teaching style I am using currently.  I have 2 years of peer-tutoring experience (Supplemental Instructor) in college, where I was trained in using active learning activities and then 3 years of experience as a GTA teaching laboratory classes.  These teaching activities helped me learn about different ways to present and work with new information and alternatives to lectures.  But this semester, and specifically this week, I am moving into an more traditional, lectures style class teaching style. I say lecture style class, because instead of the 2 or 3 hour blocks of time where students expect to practice doing something, I now teach a 50 minute class that students come into with a notebook and pen and expect to be “taught at”.  I can’t leave my active learning training behind, so have already developed the reputation as the “teacher who will make us do weird things in class” (last week we played twister to illustrate how nutrients attach themselves to soil particles), but am sensing that I need to evolve and change.

At first I felt uncertain and a bit threatened in my identity as a teacher when I realized that the way I have been teaching for last few years might not work.  It’s more comfortable to do what you’re good at. But when I think about what the important qualities of how I teach are–making students responsible for their own learning by providing resources, support and appropriately hard challenges, clearly communicating and bringing my real passion for my subjects to my students–I realize that I can stay true to who I see myself as a teach and still teach in different ways.  In order to clearly communicate the new knowledge I am bring to my students and provide them guidance for the tasks I will give them, I might have to change how my approach and my tone in class. From a more friendly, always moving and active atmosphere to a slower, more precise overview of new information.  But don’t worry, crazy in-class examples or mid-lecture mini-activities will still remain.

I like to think about my teaching style and voice changing the same way the albums made by favorite bands of mine have changed over the years.  The music and style of bands  that I like have evolved and changed over the years, growing more mature and serious or sometimes breaking into completely new styles, but at the core they are still the same and I still enjoy them and can relate to the time in my life when that music resonated with me. Welcome to the second album of my teaching.









8 thoughts on “The second album”

  1. Such a wonderful post! Yes, I totally agree with you. I also appreciated the connection you made between music and teaching. Similar to how music artists recognize that they can’t perform in the same way everytime, teachers also should recognize that they too can not teach the same every time. The advancements in technology have helped with this movement, but I think the students we teach have also changed this as well. Students are coming in with new and old expectations of how to learn. As new faculty members and teachers, we need to recognize this and be prepared to adapt and change.

    1. Good point about how student expectations influence our teaching too. As I mentioned in my post (which I wrote while writing the lesson plan for the class I taught on Monday), I decided to change tactics just a bit from a very active, learner centered approach to class activities and lessons to a more traditional lecture. Partly this was influenced by the content I was teaching, which was more technical than what I had taught earlier in the week and because the rest of the class follows this lecture style on Mondays and Wednesdays (on Fun Fridays everyone knows I will make them do crazy things, what they don’t know is there is a secret plan to help them learn behind all of my crazy ideas). Anyway, I was surprised how more receptive the students were to this lecture format (it was a more active lecture than normal and included a few short questions or activities). We have access to all of these new technologies and approaches, but students don’t necessarily want to use them. I am finding a partial flipped approach and mini-lectures with short activities very effective way to bridge the gap between what I want my students to do and what they are willing to do.

  2. It is really fascinating that we all learn something new from this pedagogy class and start to rethink about our teaching style. Finding a universal teaching style is mission impossible considering you are dealing with students having diversified backgrounds. Sometimes we get to know a new way of teaching and want to practice it in class, and in the end it may not meet your expectations. I’m quite agree with you that we just need to follow our inner voice and stay true to be teacher you are most comfortable with. Sometimes the most simple way is the most efficient way in teaching.

  3. I love this post! I really appreciate the idea of teaching in a variety of different ways while still remaining true to who you are. It is such a great point that teachers teach in a variety of contexts and teach a variety of students. So being adaptable is such a great quality. I am excited to hear more about your second album of teaching and I would love to sit in on one of your classes (I still am super intrigued by the idea of using twister to teach about nutrients and soil particles!).

    1. It gets even better than that. I just gave an extra credit assignment for students to improve on, redesign or design a new game to be played in class to help students learn about these concepts. There were a few interested faces when I mentioned this on Monday

      1. Hi Bethany, from your post, I can see how to emphasize student participation in your teaching and I agree with it. It is always better to let the students participate in the class activities themselves, which can be impressing enough for them to leave a deeper mark in their cognitive process. The teachers can be humorous or playful sololy, but it can only reach to a smaller audience at a low level. Participation is the best way of being present and being connected to the teaching-and-learning dynamics. Look forward to hearing about your learned pros and cons of letting the students design their class games!

  4. “last week we played twister to illustrate how nutrients attach themselves to soil particles”

    What?!?! I need to hear about how you did this cause I absolutely love this idea! I love this post. Such good stuff about evolving how we teach as we gain experience. Everyone else had such good comments that I don’t have much to add but I am disappointed that I missed your mom talking about grades last week. I read your blog and loved your take on it.

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