“Mapping” Exercise: a first-hand account

Workshop 2-20-14At the workshop I attended a week ago on sharing responsibility for classroom environment and learning [with our students], we closed with what I found to be an effective and helpful mapping exercise.

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Keeping it fresh: four weeks to go

I’m exhausted.  We’re at that point in the semester where it seems like it will never end.  And, owing to a quirk of the solar calendar, there are THREE weeks of teaching after Thanksgiving instead of the traditional two.  I find myself worried about keeping an appropriate level of energy and excitement in my classes.

One of the weirdest things about earning tenure is that, suddenly, your teaching isn’t critically observed any more. It’s been three years since someone has visited my classroom with the intent to help me evaluate my own teaching (I have had many guests there to observe my so-called “good” teaching, but–for obvious reasons to do with experience and power structures–they rarely offer feedback on what they saw). I invited my long-time mentor and friend to come in last week to give me his outsider’s perspective on two things: (1) how high or low I am setting the bar in my class, and (2) strategies for raising it. Here’s what he thought and what we talked about over lunch after class. Continue reading

Exploring the Middle Ground

No, [for you music theorists] this is not a post about Schenkerian analysis.  This is a post about an exciting opportunity I’m exploring with my Form and Analysis class next week.  We are going to our campus’s extraordinary art museum for our first of a series of three classes (spread out over the semester).

What has captured my pedagogical imagination the most is engaging with the idea of middle ground. I was introduced to this concept two weeks ago during a workshop about using our wonderfully equipped and staffed teaching museum.  It comes, as far as I can tell, from Richard White’s book, The Middle Ground: Indians, Empires, and Republics in the Great Lakes Region, 1650–1815Led by a history professor, the workshop I attended touched on the change in power structure that occurs when I take my class to the museum. I am no longer an expert learner; I am now on the similar footing to my students. What a treat for me! I have been fascinated by the implications and simplicity of the idea for two weeks now and am excited about our first trip to the museum next Wednesday.

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