Most of what I read frames instruction around what students get out of it….and rightfully so. After all, we teach so they can learn. Nonetheless, it made me think about what I get out of it. More specifically, it made me think about what I WANT to get out of it.
The macro goals of my teaching life are pretty clear. I feel emotionally strengthened when I know students are challenged in important and potentially transformative ways. It fills my emotional vat when a student seeks me out to thank me for my contribution to her/his learning. I also gain new knowledge particularly as it relates to learning technologies and engaged learning pedagogy. Such knowledge has really boosted by confidence in the classroom and designing courses. I also have made friends. Some are former students, many are my colleagues. Finally, I get the opportunity to talk about my academic passions. This has huge payoffs. However, so often I find myself (and my colleagues often agree) unmotivated, lacking passion, or worse dreading class. What do I want to get out of class on a typical day?
The micro life of teaching is largely managing the mundane: logistics, grading, taking attendance, posting assignments and resources, coordinating groups, reminders, reminders and more reminders. They are necessary conditions of the profession, but they can also overwhelm and dominate my calendar as well as my thinking. So, I WANT to ask: How often do I ask questions that excite me? How often do I get a chance to demonstrate the type of thinking that I attracted me to the subject in the first place? How often do students see what I contribute to the discipline?
What do I want from a typical lecture?
- I want to get excited.
- I want to ask a question that Google can’t easily answer.
- I want to ask a new question.
- I want to engage in a meaningful discussion with other excited people.
- I want to feel motivated.
- I want to see the discussion continued once class ends.
- I want to see a new research possibility.
- I want to laugh.
- I want to get angry at injustices.
- I want to make something.
- I want my thinking to be challenged.
- I want people to care about what I have to say.
- I want to feel invaluable.
- I want to have a feeling of accomplishment.
- I want to see something from a different perspective.
- I want to discover an alternative way of doing something.
- I want to leave with new questions.
- I want to look forward to our next class.
Thinking about what I want to get out of class has reoriented my thinking. The above brief list shows me new possibilities and lines of action. It has also helped me rethink my attitudes and instructional habits. So, What do YOU want to get out of your next class meeting?