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.