I Feel the Need….The Need for SPEED

It’s that time of the semester, the one where we feel like our bag of tricks is nearly empty. It’s the time I feel like a tired Vegas Act with only half the material I need. Hello? Is this thing on? Tough crowd…HOW DO I KEEP THESE PEOPLE ENTERTAINED FOR ANOTHER 50 MINUTES?

If you’re in that same boat, we have good news for you! On Monday, Nov. 16, CETL will be hosting our first annual Speed-Geeking Festival at 4:00 PM in the Speed Lyceum (OOOH FANCY). We’ll have several tables where some of your colleagues will share one of their cool activities, assignments, or couGeek_by_Baddierse materials with you. After a few minutes, we’ll ring the bell, and you’ll go to a new table, with another colleague, and talk about another awesome thing they’re doing. It’s just like speed-dating, except less awkward and contrived. And unlike speed-dating, where your only takeaway is a lingering sense of social isolation, your takeaway here will be a handful of things you can either use right away in your classes or save as the foundation for cool things next semester. Plus, we’ll have snacks. WHAT’S NOT TO LOVE?

We hope you’ll join us on Monday–all faculty and staff are cordially invited. We’ll see you at 4:00, in the SPEED Lyceum to SPEED geek! (See what we did there?)

On to this week’s links:

They may be aimed at K-12 teachers, but I still chuckled at a good many of these “61 Best Teaching Memes.” Ah, the internet. Such magic.

As we head towards the holiday where we ponder what we’re thankful for, I’m continually struck by how thankful am for being surrounded by colleagues who are so passionately committed to their teaching and to student success. It’s inspiring to be a part of so many conversations about pedagogy and student learning where I learn as much as I teach. I’m reminded of a post by Josh Eyler from a couple of years ago where he reflects on the nature of “inspiration” in teaching. Eyler’s conclusion rings true for me: Inspiration, he says, comes not from a once-in-a-lifetime Dead Poets’ Society-type character, but from “those teachers on our own campuses who are doing outstanding work in their classrooms every single day as our models.  If inspiration is anywhere, I’m pretty sure it’s there.” I couldn’t agree more.

Looking for resources? Ideas? Help?

Click here for this week’s CETL Library Spotlight

Click here to contact CETL

The description of this video says: “Three bulldogs surfing to some Ethiopian jazz is easily the best thing you’ll see all week.” That is 100% accurate.

Lecture Me–Really?

You may have seen the recent New York Times op-ed piece by Molly Worthen, in which she defends the “traditional lecture” against what she sees as pedagogical threats posed by “the active learning craze” and a “populist resentment of experts.” The essay lit up social media in academic circles, and was shared and re-posted widely. Worthen certainly speaks to the things professors value: students who can take good notes, model critical argument, and learn to listen both closely and deeply.  Her argument that “comprehension and reasoning,” the two bedrock skills for “the essentials of working life and citizenship,” are the products of lecturing done well appeals to the content-geek in all of us. Who among us doesn’t have a vision of ourselves up on stage, waxing erudite about the intricacies of our discipline to an admiring throng of students hanging raptly upon our every word? Worthen’s call to return to the lecture and rediscover the essentials of a humanistic education is a seductive argument indeed. Continue reading “Lecture Me–Really?”

Doing Things Differently, or Doing Different Things?

The new tools of teaching are going to revolutionize the role of the professor in the classroom. Gone are the days in which the teacher occupies center stage–this new technology replaces traditional classroom instruction. Soon, students will learn via the screen, and our role as faculty will be rendered obsolete. Technology changes everything, but is change always good?

This was the conversation when televisions and VCRs became prevalent in classrooms.

You look surprised.

Did you think I was talking about something else? Continue reading “Doing Things Differently, or Doing Different Things?”

Thinking about Structures

On Wednesday, over a dozen faculty and staff came to Conversations on Teaching* to talk about power and privilege in the classroom. Our discussion kept coming back to structures; what kind of structures are already in place, and what structures might we be reproducing, that put up barriers to students’ learning? It was a powerful conversation (pun partially intended), one that opened a lot of avenues of thought about what it is we do with and for our students. (You can access the slides from this session here: Language and Motivation, Privilege and Power, and the references and further reading are here.) In the spirit of continuing that conversation, this week’s links offer some resources, food for thought, and even challenges as we work to discern the structures in higher education that prevent us and our students from being as successful as we should be.  Continue reading “Thinking about Structures”

Surprise! It’s October!

SurprisedCatIs it just me, or is the semester going by really fast? (Note: I have posed this rhetorical question at the five-week mark of every semester in my teaching career.) As we stagger make our way toward midterms, our classes are finding their rhythms–their patterns and identity–as we and our students become more familiar with one another and with the work at hand. In many cases, this is a really positive development; students have gelled with one another, discussions have become less stilted and more open and honest, and we’re finally able to remember everyone’s name. But in some instances, the rhythm isn’t established yet. Or the class has taken on less-than-ideal characteristics–students are sullen, or belligerent, or just plain flat. If you’re in that spot (and, honestly, who among us hasn’t been?), the good news is there’s still time to turn things around. In some cases, the answer to our problems is to relax the reins a little bit, especially if discussion is the main area in which our class is struggling. It may seem counter-intuitive, but letting go may be the answer to regaining pedagogical balance. Have we over-planned? Are we creating structures that stifle students rather than empower them? Do they have room to try (and maybe even fail) to accomplish the course goals? In this thoughtful essay, Chris Friend explores what it means to “let go,” listen to our students, and let them wander rather than channel them into specific places. Sometimes the way to regain control is to give it up. Continue reading “Surprise! It’s October!”