I find myself throwing around terms like “advancing the legacy” and “Lincoln Excellence” every now and then, especially when I’m trying to convince funding agencies that we are deserving of their attention. The word excellence is even part of the title of the office that I serve; The Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning.
I feel like I have a good grasp on what legacy means; it is the mark that Lincoln has made on the country and world through all its graduates. If we aim to advance the legacy, we simply (or not so simply) keep graduating students that succeed in their disciplines and intentionally work for positive change in their communities and in the world. This can be quantified and measured by the success of our alumni.
Lincoln excellence on the other hand – what is it? Excellence is “the quality of being outstanding or very good” according to Merriam Webster. Are we outstanding in our teaching practices? How do we know? What do we do to be outstanding? Part of me is convinced that we practice excellence in many things that we do in the classroom and beyond. The indirect measure of our excellence is the success of our students past Lincoln. But how can we measure excellence directly? What does excellence in the classroom look like? Is it our ability to engage students and help them learn? How do we know that what we individually consider excellence translates into learning that makes a difference for our students? Does your excellence look similar to my excellence? Are we aiming to educate students that show performance excellence or mastery excellence - the former being the ability to perform well on exams, while the latter includes the ability to use learned material to succeed in life. Is excellence in a Visual Arts class the same as excellence in a Health Science or Math class? I am intrigued by Lincoln Excellence because I know that we produce outstanding graduates who go on to successfully pursue careers in government, the arts, music, accounting, law, science, medicine etcetera, but if somebody asked me for the recipe for how exactly we do this – and do it well – I would not be able to tell them. Can you?
I would love to read your thoughts on Lincoln Excellence in the classroom and beyond.
How do you practice excellence in your classroom?
Share your thoughts here or in this quick survey: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/PJRY9HW
I will share any survey results in a future blog.