One of my favourite jobs as a teaching developer is to visit other people’s classrooms. I get to learn new things while providing a helpful service (observation and report for feedback to individual instructors). There’s another benefit that accrues too, though. I get to bring ideas from a panoply of disciplinary approaches back to my own classroom, reinvigorating my own teaching and ratcheting up my students’ learning.
Rarely is this more apparent than during our Open Classroom series. Open Classroom is Waterloo’s unique way of celebrating our Distinguished Teaching Award winners by asking them to do some work! Each term, if possible, we ask the DTA winner to open his or her doors to other professors, new or more seasoned, it doesn’t matter. The attendees (a few to half a dozen, depending on the room capacity) sit in on the live classroom as observers, and then have an opportunity to ask questions for an hour after the class. This gives a chance not only for the visitors to experience what it’s like to be a learner in the Award-winner’s class, but for the professor to explain his or her thinking behind instructional approaches taken that day.
What is really important here is that one need not be from the professor’s home discipline to benefit from this observation and discussion. I have certainly learned some things from Waterloo professors I’ve observed, and while some of it has gone way over my head, the techniques themselves have found their way directly or indirectly into my own cultural studies lectures (even math and physics approaches!). I would heartily encourage attendance at this term’s Open Classroom (Ted McGee’s English course, the Rebel) and future Open Classrooms, regardless of your own discipline. You will find some relevance in watching and asking about a different approach, I am sure.
The Centre for Teaching Excellence welcomes contributions to its blog. If you are a faculty member, staff member, or student at the University of Waterloo (or beyond!) and would like contribute a posting about some aspect of teaching or learning, please contact Mark Morton or Trevor Holmes.
Bit of a dry spell on the blog this term! We’ll try to be more regular.
So I’m sure readers have been holding their collective breath, awaiting eagerly my update from the first day of class a couple of Fridays ago. That’s right: in my first blog post of 2011, I imagined a perfect pedagogical storm of a first day. I did do what I intended to. Many of the students in lecture contributed good thoughts to the definition of culture we were coming up with, collectively. They didn’t seem to tire of the pairs of images so much as previous years’ cohorts have. And in tutorials, when confronted again with some of the same images, they deepened their analysis still more, becoming comfortable with each other in the smaller setting. I even had them fill out tutorial logs at the end of each tutorial, so those who didn’t get a chance to contribute could let us know what they were thinking. Continue reading …and so it goes – Trevor Holmes
I’m not ready for this. I need a longer break! My first class is this week — I have a reprieve until Friday at 10:00, so my apologies to those who had to begin at 8:30 this morning!
As we enter 2011 we face an unprecedented level of distraction. Over the weekend, a few things came together for me as I was socializing (online and in person) and simultaneously thinking about my first lecture. At a friend’s house, we were talking about Millennials — the people born since 1982 or so who have been coming of age in the new millennium — and how (even for us, a Gen X and a Boomer) it seems impossible to have slower time for reflection and focus. The next day, someone passed along an article about the ways in which English literature departments have lost the plot. Both moments are very present in my mind as I plan the first lecture of a Cultural Studies course (a course that could be seen as one big pile of distractions, and that’s one of the kinder things said about the discipline!). Continue reading Beginnings – Trevor Holmes
In my role as the CTE Liaison for the Faculty of Engineering, part of my job is to assist professors by providing pedagogical advice. This task requires some research from my side in addition to my experience as an engineering student Continue reading A Peer Teaching Model for Senior Students