Welcome back to another wonderful academic year! As I’ve been preparing for my courses and other Center for Teaching and Learning duties, I have been thinking about what changes I could make to continue to grow in my teaching profession. However, making changes can be daunting and overwhelming.
In June, I attended the Teacher Professor Conference, and I learned several new strategies. But the biggest take-away for me was to choose one or two activities or concepts to tweak or alter within a course. My conference session leaders all stated the importance of starting small to yield big results because if we change too many lessons or concepts at once, we can begin to lose our footing or get lost in all of the newness.
When I think about starting small, I think of the ripples in water once a rock or something agitates the water. The ripples start small, but they grow bigger and bigger until more surface area is impacted. So what is one assignment, project, or lesson plan that you’re going to change? No matter the size of the change, there will be a positive ripple effect. What we learn as faculty for the betterment of ourselves blesses our students. So the two small changes I made this semester involve:
- better communication with the students: I’m not comfortable giving students my cell number, but I know that they are more apt to read a notification or message from me via text. At the Teacher Professor Conference, I learned about an app and website called Remind. I use the app on my phone, so I am able to send messages via the app (like a text message), but I do not know the students’ phone numbers, and they do not know mine. Even though we are in day two of the semester, I have already found the app extremely helpful in communicating with my students!
- clearer directions in the daily activities and lessons: In order to this, I needed to create more of a framework for my students. So I decided to have essential questions for the term. These will be the anchors I use to bring the students back to the bigger picture of the course and (honestly) to keep me on track. I have found that as I plan my lessons I check in with myself of how the activity relates to the essential questions and share their knowledge and understanding with the students.
I love the start of the school year, not just because of the newness (especially the school supplies :)) but because of the renewed and refreshed perspective. So let your inspiration guide you to a new or revamped assignment or project and watch the ripples of good unfold.