Practice what you Preach…

So, it’s time to really model what I believe in. I’ve been invited to come do a 2.5-hour lecture/workshop at my friend and colleague Jena’s pedagogy class. I’ve thought carefully about what I want to do and feel that it is essential to model as many of my most passionately-held beliefs as possible. On the top of my mind is transparency, movement, honesty, risk-taking, and reflection. Here’s some of the decisions I’ve made:

First, (transparency) I’ve made my lesson plan available to the students ahead of time. In that plan, I describe my hopes and my thoughts behind the entire session and each session’s part. It’s a google doc and is still changing (I wonder if any of them will notice the changes?).

In terms of risk-taking, I’m experimenting with an activity that teaches others how they could make a lesson plan. The lack of resources that teach this skill is something that frustrates me, so I’m going to work on modeling it in hopes of someday being able to write effectively about it. The truth is, creating a lesson plan is a non-linear and messy process. One rarely comes up with something really good the first time. And, often what one comes up with gets adjusted in “real time.” So, I’m not sure how I would even write about the process!

The gist of the workshop is to model the single biggest thing I’ve learned as an aural skills instructor: the more you can embody learning, the deeper the learning is.  I keep calling this kind of learning “active learning”, but I think I’m going to change that term because it tends to be a catch-all for a wider range of activities than what I’m stressing. I’m going to start with a show-and-tell section that engages students in four of my favorite activities.

The students have been writing on their class website about reactions to the materials I’ve shared (4 syllabi spanning 9 years, this blog, and the lesson plan). Based on the comments I’ve read so far, I’m (1) excited to meet them and (2) looking forward to the open Q&A at the end of the workshop. I suspect there will be plenty of questions on policies, trouble shooting, and who knows what else. I look forward to answering honestly and hope that the fact that I teach college-level students (rather than high-school level students) doesn’t take a lot of ideas off the table for them.

Finally, I’ve saved some time at the end for reflection. I have a form that I’m going to use a paper cutter to almost cut in half.  The top part is for them to keep (private reflections) and the bottom is for me–to garner some feedback on my experiment of teaching how to make a lesson plan.

Looking forward to reflecting on how it went!

4 thoughts on “Practice what you Preach…

  1. Doing a 2.5 hours class was challenging! Overall, I was happy with how the class went. A few things could have been much better. (1) I needed to provide more structure to the “planning a lesson plan” part. Perhaps I should have chosen the topic ahead of time and created the homework students would have prepared. The flip side is that then I would already have a fairly well-formed idea of the next lesson plan, which works against the goal of the activity. Perhaps I could record myself working on a lesson plan as a model and then break students into small groups to do their own in the future. I really want them to experience the messiness and back-and-forth challenges to crafting a lesson plan. (2) My evaluation form was poorly written–I wanted focused feedback on one segment of the day, but received general feedback on the whole day. While helpful and fun to read, it didn’t help me improve the part I was most concerned about!

    Lastly, I think I should have documented the activities the students brainstormed. Every activity had tons of promise as a pedagogical tool and it would have been wonderful to have a concrete (savable) product come out of the day.

  2. Great ideas! I love idea of letting the audience now what you have in store for them before you meet with them.

    Have you ever thought about crowd-sourcing a lesson plan for something like this…that is, having a space when the students could insert suggestions on topics to be covered based upon how they see the lesson progressing? Or do you think that is something that would only work in a semester-log classroom situation?

    Thank you for sharing!

    • That’s an interesting idea–I’d have to percolate on it. The skeptic in me thinks that students wouldn’t participate in the discussion unless I required it… they are all so busy! But, if I had a course website and did my “out-loud” thinking in one of the margins of that website, I could see that getting some response….

experiments, opinions, and dialogues... join in the fun!