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All That Teaching Entails

The February issue of the newsletter contains highlights from an amazing article—one written by a faculty member who describes himself as a “bad teacher.” The piece chronicles his transformation as a teacher. It’s one of the best articles I’ve read in a long while (and you know I read more than a few articles).

What I’d like to share here is a wonderful quote found in the article. Author (and teacher) Mark Cohan is writing about how transmission of knowledge is such a small part of teaching. Here’s how it describes the other parts. “Beyond it, there are the intricacies of tone, presence, and demeanor that make up our in-class performance. There is coaching and coaxing, as we try to convey to students the full extent of their abilities. There is class management—the ways we foster and negotiate student-to-student interactions, positive and negative. And there is role modeling, the picture we give students of what constitutes an educator and a professional in our field. All of these elements can be molded and refined by learning about pedagogical practices. But they emerge from who we are and transforming them means transforming ourselves.” (p. 36)

Cohan’s piece explores how much teaching arises from and is linked to personhood. Changes in pedagogical practice may transform what happens in our classroom, but they may also end up changing who we are and how we orient to teaching.

Reference: Cohan, M. (2009). Bad apple: The social production and subsequent reeducation of a bad teacher. Change, (November/December), 32-36.