Letting go of the belief that the way that I taught in the past was the best way…

Coming up as a graduate student I was never taught how to teach. I had to actively seek out my own information from seminars (which were hard to find) and literature about teaching and piece together my teaching philosophy from a myriad of sources. I learned a lot about how to teach by watching others, mostly my mentors, who were all “sages on the stage.” I took that teaching philosophy and ran with it, thinking that it was the only way to teach as it was the only thing that I had experienced.

I have taught for many years, but now that I am developing my first hybrid course the pitfall that I need to continually avoid is believing that the only way that my students will learn is by acquiring their knowledge from me (a combination of pitfall #3: “sage on the stage” and pitfall #4: “pouring content into student containers”).  I teach a content heavy course and I feel personally responsible for delivering information to my students, so I developed this belief system that I was the one who responsible for this. I have taught this course as an on-campus course and an Ecampus course, so I have seen both styles. When I first moved the course to Ecampus, I fell into pitfall #4 thinking that I was the one to deliver the knowledge into their “container.” I recently changed my model and gave my students the creative freedom to do open-ended assignments to explore parts of the course that they wanted to learn more in depth and they just amazed me! I spent a whole Sunday reading them and I was completely revitalized and inspired by their enthusiasm, creativity, and passion. It made me completely change my thinking about how I do things. They did not get what they put into those assignments from me…they got it from their own inspiration, creativity, passion, and exploration.

It is very difficult to change. It is very difficult to break free of how we do things because we come to believe that the way we do things is the best way, the only way. I am reading these pitfalls often as I am working on my hybrid development to remind me that I am continually learning how to do this better for my students.

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3 Responses to Letting go of the belief that the way that I taught in the past was the best way…

  1. sakuraip says:

    I think this was one of the most shocking discoveries for me as a grad student–how little explicit training most university professors receive prior to teaching (K-12 teachers go through so much more). I was assigned a composition class to teach on my own my very first term of grad school, and while I was fortunate to be able to participate in a teaching practicum simultaneously, it still seemed incredibly irresponsible of my grad program to be giving me my own class (I had absolutely no teaching experience at the time). Even with the practicum training, I can relate to your experience piecing together one’s own pedagogical approach. Moreover, considering my models for teaching came about in the late 80s/early 90s, I guess it’s no wonder I’m at a bit of a loss as to how new technologies might be adopted into my own pedagogical practices. Anyway, just some tangential thoughts that came to mind.

  2. Carmel says:

    When I turn things over to my students, I am left feeling that I am not doing enough to teach, despite all the work I’ve done in advance to set up the course. I used to compile information to create lectures; now I give the lecture pieces to students and have them come up with their own interpretations, based on their own questions. It leaves me feeling like I should be doing more.

  3. stiegers says:

    I really found reading through your blog refreshing as this just voices my concerns. I have found discussion sessions with students incredibly revitalizing and I am hoping that giving some learning responsibilities back to the students will keep/make the course refreshing. It was interesting for me to do a lecture in a different country and realize how excited students were and how interested they were asking questions. I feel I did not teach any different, but I felt the expectations of the students were different, so feel teaching here is not only learning different ways/concepts to teach, but also teaching students that different ways of teaching can provide them with an exciting and new learning experience. I think it is teaching them that some learning responsibilities are in their hands and not the person teaching as never everything can be taught in a course.

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