Reflections on Teaching: From Surviving to Thriving

Editor’s Note: In part one of this article, the author shared openly some of the mistakes he made early in his teaching career. In this entry, he outlines some of the changes he’s made to his teaching over the years and the principles he uses to guide his teaching. I had known it all along at some level, but now it suddenly became glaringly obvious to me. Deep down, sometimes out of conscious reach, students want to be transformed and their lives made more useful, productive, and powerful. I added the following new goal to my personal mission statement:

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Reflections on Teaching: Mistakes I’ve Made

I started teaching at American University at the age of 56 after a rewarding career as an environmental and wildlife film producer. That was almost ten years ago, and I’ll be the first to admit that I really didn’t know what I was getting myself into. I had never taught before and I wasn’t even sure where to begin. I had no teaching philosophy beyond some vague, unarticulated feeling that I wanted my students to do well. And so, I started asking lots of questions.

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Building Student Engagement: Beyond the Classroom

In this, the final installment of a six-part series on strategies for building student engagement, I offer suggestions for engaging students beyond the classroom. As professors, we impact students not only during classes, but also through office hours, emails, and feedback.

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Building Student Engagement: Classroom Atmosphere

In previous articles I’ve offered effective teaching strategies for building student engagement by setting the tone with the syllabus and first classes. Today we move to the general classroom atmosphere. The following suggestions will help you build an atmosphere of constant engagement, passion and learning.

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