June 13, 2013

Lessons Learned from My Students


My students have taught me some invaluable lessons during my first two years as a college professor. I’d like to share three of the most important ones here. They aren’t new lessons and I didn’t use any unique methods to learn them. I collected data midsemester from students, I talked with them, and I looked closely at what was happening in my classroom. The lessons were there for me to learn, and taken together they have helped me think more clearly about what I want my students to know and do, and who I want them to become. They are lessons that have made me a better teacher.

June 12, 2013

Reflections on Teaching: Learning from Our Stories


Here’s a great story. A graduate student is attending a lecture being given by one of her intellectual heroes, the Brazilian educator and theorist Paulo Freire. She takes notes furiously, trying to capture as many of his words as possible. Seeing that she is keenly interested in what Freire had to say, his translator asks if she would like to meet him. Of course! She is introduced and he begins by inquiring about her work. Then he graciously agrees to respond to a set of questions she and her colleagues hoped they would get the chance to ask him. She is impressed beyond belief, but time prevents her from asking one last, difficult question. They meet accidently once more at the event and he wonders if she asked all her questions? No, there is one more. “Given your work, we want to know ‘where is the hope’?” Without hesitating he moves toward her, takes her face in his hands, looks into her eyes, and replies, “You tell them, ‘you are the hope, because theory needs to be reinvented, not replicated … it is a guide. We make history as we move through it and that is the hope.”

November 4, 2011

Making Time for Reflection


We are all so busy. We race from task to task. We attempt to multi-task; dividing and depleting our energies. How many times do we arrive in class breathless with hardly a moment to think about what we have planned for the day? I harbor no illusions that a blog entry is going to change our lives, but I would like to use this one to reiterate the need to make time for reflection, for contemplation about what we do, how and why we do it. The value of doing so is laid out clearly in a new book, A Teacher’s Reflection Book: Exercises, Stories, Invitations by Jean Koh Peters and Mark Weisberg.

June 16, 2011

The Softer Side of Teaching


It has not been a good week. While I was flying home from The Teaching Professor Conference, I got a call that my brother had an accident and broke his leg in three places. So I’ve been spending lots of time at the hospital and now lots of time taking care of this poor fellow who not only broke his leg but managed to have the accident in a patch of poison oak.