As events unfold globally and more personally, I have been reflecting a lot lately on the meaning of courage. And I’ve wondered, “How does courage manifest itself in teaching and learning?” I offer here a few reflections on some of the many instances of courage I have observed in learners and teachers.
In the fall, as I was teaching, I was struck by my students’ courage as they tried to adopt the language of a new discipline, and as they worked to make connections among ideas that they were just learning about, knowing they would be evaluated on these.
I was humbled by students’ willingness to admit when they did not understand something.
I was touched by their willingness to share personal struggles, such as loneliness, physical pain, mental distress, (likely) with the hope that these revelations would be met with a human response.
I was grateful for their efforts to analyze deeply their personal experiences and draw relevant connections to the material we were studying.
I was amazed at the student who had been so sick for over a week, but who came to class after a sleepless night because she didn’t want to miss our last day of class.
There are so many ways, too, in which we demonstrate courage as teachers:
by infusing our selfhood into our course material – teaching “who we are” and how we think, sometimes to many hundreds of students at a time
by trying instructional strategies we have never tried, with the hope that they will help student learning
by admitting that we don’t have the answer to a student’s question
by opening up the class to discussion, when we’re not quite sure in what direction the discussion will take us
by sharing an article or chapter that we’ve written as part of the course readings
by gathering with a group of our peers to work on our teaching and course design.
What instances of courage come to mind when you think about teachers and teaching, learners and learning? What do we/can we do individually and collectively to en-courage each other and ourselves in teaching and learning?
Author Parker J. Palmer offers a wonderful perspective on courage in teaching in his book, “The Courage to Teach”.
Whenever I talk with instructors here about how my job is to support them in their writing and communication instruction, I hear some version of the same response: “My students are brilliant, but they can’t write a sentence to save their lives!” No matter whom I’m talking to, regardless of discipline, job title, teaching experience, linguistic background, educational background, or teaching load, nearly everyone has the same anxieties around the role of communication in their courses. But I’m always glad to have the chance to talk about these concerns. If you’re one of those instructors I’ve talked with about teaching writing and communication in your discipline, you’ve probably seen my eyes light up as I eagerly launch into my spiel about the research on teaching writing and communication across the curriculum.
Most often we approach the design of our main course elements – intended learning outcomes (ILOs), formative and summative assessments, and teaching and learning activities – by turning to Bloom’s Taxonomy (and most frequently the cognitive domain) to help us determine the appropriate level of thinking required and to help us express that accurately in our descriptions.
After working in graduate student programming at CTE for the past three years, this term I collaborated with Donna Ellis, CTE Director, on a SSHRC-funded project involving eight other Canadian universities. The project is developing and validating survey tools (the Teaching Culture Perception Survey) to measure indicators of institutional teaching culture. You can find out more about the project here.
Having an opportunity to reflect on my brief time with CTE is a most welcomed development. Not only for those interested in CTE, but for myself, this chance to pause and consider all that has transpired within my introductory entry into the world of CTE has been, quite frankly, remarkable. I’ve only just wrapped up my first term as a GID (Graduate Instructional Developer), though the wealth of experiences makes it feel as though I’ve been here much longer (and I mean that in the best way possible). Firstly, I suppose a bit of preamble is in order before we get ahead of ourselves… Continue reading Teaching teaching to (future) teachers – Joseph Buscemi
I am an Online Learning Consultant (OLC) at the Centre for Extended Learning at the University of Waterloo. As OLCs we pride ourselves on a scholarly approach to course design and, as such, 20% of my time is allotted to research. One of the research projects that I began in Winter 2016 is a case study examination of a blended learning opportunity jointly offered by Wilfrid Laurier University and UOIT. In this case, not only did I have the opportunity to conduct research, but also to teach and contribute design changes to the course being researched. Both the research and teaching dimensions of this experience have been invaluable, greatly enhancing my perspective as an instructional designer. Continue reading A case study of a new approach to a blended course — Meagan Troop, Centre for Extended Learning