Cohen’s 10 lessons, learned over three decades of teaching English at Drexel University, were these:
- Don't take things personally.
- Be accountable to your students.
- Make students accountable for their performance.
- Don't rush—i.e., slow down.
- Use. (I was relieved to see that this didn’t refer to illegal substances but rather to using everything said or done in the classroom as part of the teaching process).
- Connect learning to life.
- Make form follow function. (Don’t adopt a new tool until you weigh both what will be gained and what will be lost.)
- Trust your voice and amplify it. (Admit, for instance, when you don’t know something and then model “how not to know.”)
Her exploration of each of these 10 lessons is thought-provoking, and for me it raised the question of what else I would add. One “lesson” that came to mind was “Appreciate the joy.” When I’m in the classroom, I’m doing something I love, and I think it’s important to my students and to myself that I remember to be grateful for that, even when faced with stacks of homework awaiting my attention or hours of meetings awaiting my presence.
What would you add? What lessons have you learned from your classroom during your teaching career? Can we make it a baker’s dozen? Or two?