by Linda Stine
This has been a particularly difficult week. The week’s writing assignment in my online class, I discovered, had not been explained well enough, as evidenced by the essays students were submitting that didn’t address the assignment (at least the assignment as I had it in my mind), so I was spending a lot of extra time posting explanations and feeling guilty for making my hard-working students essentially do double work.
Non-teaching duties kept piling up as well, with meetings to attend and reports coming due and all of the administrative details that nibble away at every spare minute. I was immediately interested, therefore, when I happened upon an article on teaching* that started out, “Have you ever become so frustrated with students and overwhelmed by your workload that you start questioning what you are doing?”
“I sure have,” I muttered, as I read further.
The authors, Candice Dowd Barnes, Ed.D. and Patricia Kohler-Evans, Ed.D, remind us that we need to “remember and affirm our purpose, acknowledge the contributions we make in students' lives and professional pursuits, and respect the call or passion that brought each of us to the teaching profession.” Two of the most important of these contributions, they suggest, are helping students to think deeply and helping them to build relationships.
How can we, they ask us to consider, bring about those occasions of cognitive dissonance that force students to question their previous ideas and ways of thinking so that they can enrich, deepen or change them? How can we, additionally, build the kinds of relationships with students that set a model for them later in life as they build personal and professional relationships with others?
I would love to hear how you have answered any of those questions for yourself. Why do you teach? What kind of activities have you created that help students think more deeply and critically about the subject you’re teaching? How do you structure your relationships with students so that you might provide a good template for their relationship-building in life after Lincoln? Any thoughts?
*The full article can be found at http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/philosophy-of-teaching/remembering-our-mission-to-teach/