The midwife is still my favorite metaphor for teaching. I don’t think there’s a metaphor that more aptly captures the complexity, power, and richness of the dynamic relationship between teachers, students, and learning. The metaphor is not original with me, and although I have read some quibbles in the literature as to who first proposed it, I first encountered it in a 1986 Harvard Educational Review essay by William Ayers. Here’s some of my current thinking about how the midwife mirrors all that a good teacher should be.
HIGHER ED TEACHING STRATEGIES FROM MAGNA PUBLICATIONS
If Web 1.0 was about information, then Web 2.0 is about sharing information. This second generation of the web is more personalized, more collaborative, and more engaging. Is it any wonder faculty are looking for ways to leverage these capabilities in their courses?
If you have been teaching for any time at all, I’ll bet you’ve encountered what I call the interested but noncompliant student (hereafter, the INC). Here are some examples encountered in my courses: In an ancient language course, one INC would not take the trouble to learn her noun forms and verb endings but, fascinated by the language, went online to find an inscription that she tried to decipher. Another INC read more than I have in a subdivision of my field. He wanted to talk about it endlessly before and after class, so much so that I had to chase him away to give other students a chance to talk to me. Am I describing student behaviors that sound familiar?
Managing students who are disruptive, those who lack motivation and appear as though they would rather be any place than in the classroom, is easier when faculty take the right stance. Anything is possible when faculty have faith in the students they teach. Learning starts with a dedicated teacher interested in meeting the challenge of how to present content in a way that successfully navigates the barriers students erect.
To meet the needs of today’s students, colleges and universities are offering more courses in block time formats. These courses meet once a week for three hours, extended hours over fewer weeks, or on weekends. Typically, the students who take these courses are working full time, are interested in career advancement, and want classes that keep them engaged.
Blended learning, which combines face-to-face learning with a mixture of online activities, has been hailed as both a cost-effective way to relieve overcrowded classroom and a convenient alternative to the traditional classroom experience. But it has quickly become much more than that.
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.
Many academic leaders are involved in regional accreditations, and I am no exception. The six regional accrediting agencies are becoming increasingly stringent in the application and interpretation of their standards, and this can make the accrediting process a difficult one to survive. Our institution was a founding member of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and has been accredited continuously from the beginning. I have been involved in four of the 10-year “reaffirmation” activities, serving as chair of the college steering committee twice and serving as our institutional liaison with SACS for many years.
As a marketing professor, I often found myself scouring publications, stores, and my cabinets prior to a lecture, to find real-world examples of concepts I was teaching. Although students seemed to appreciate and learn from these examples, it didn’t get them as actively involved in their learning as I’d like.
As every academic leader can attest, the current generation of college students has been blessed with parents who remain highly invested in every aspect of their children’s education. It is not uncommon for parents of students to call the dean, provost, or even president to discuss a problem with a course. Occasionally even the parent of a graduate student will attempt to intervene in an academic issue affecting his or her child.