lightbulbs August 10, 2010

Don’t Waste the First Day of Class

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Despite the fact that numerous articles have been written on the importance of the first day, too many of us still use it to do little more than go over the syllabus and review basic guidelines for the course. This year I decided to try a different approach, and the results were much more dramatic than I expected. I taught real material on the first day. Despite that, there have been fewer questions about course policies, with some students actually referencing them without even a mention from me. Let me explain how I achieved these results.


March 23, 2010

What Students Expect from Instructors, Other Students

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Some years back The Teaching Professor featured an article highlighting Mano Singham’s wonderful piece describing how he moved away from a very authoritarian, rule-centered syllabus (reference below). It’s one of my very favorite articles—I reference it regularly in presentations, and it appears on almost every bibliography I distribute.







August 24, 2009

Using the Syllabus to Create an Engaging Classroom Climate

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It’s important at the beginning of a course for students and their instructor to find out about each other. This exchange of information helps to create classroom climates of respect and fosters a spirit of exchange that can encourage students to ask questions, make comments, and otherwise participate in dialogue throughout the course.


August 19, 2009

The Pietas of Teaching

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Recently, I encountered a snag in my teaching. Unlike past difficulties connected to particular classroom challenges, this one was more pervasive. For several months I contemplated the cause of this “bigger” dilemma. Upon reflection it became evident that my off-balance feeling was linked to the pietas of teaching.