Dr. Chris Stabile
Insights from the Keiser Educator Seminar and the TLC
To further explain, all of “Chapter 5” may not be relevant, but if one does not realize that one holds this assumption, “I must teach everything in the book” as true; then one’s actions and how one discusses reality will reflect accordingly.
For instance, an educator may assume that “I have to cover the chapter material via PowerPoint, so I have no time to reflect and develop.” Rather than trying to rewrite the textbook chapter in 50 PowerPoint slides, an educator who chooses to reflect may start with the realization that one does not have to rewrite the textbook thereby reframing the conversation and realizing that to actively engage students usually starts by asking three questions: 1) What do students need to know and care about the material? (Start with the objective and outcomes of the course and how will learning be measured.); 2) What do students need to do with this material? (Develop activities that would be used by students to apply what they learned, such as an in-class essay, problem-solving case study or a question to answer in small groups?); and 3) how will I check for their understanding of the major points? (Promote self-reflection with the students by asking them to write down what they learned and to identify the muddiest point or by other classroom assessment techniques.). As Ken Bain wrote about in What the Best Colleges Teachers Do, I too, realized that I teach students rather than chapters. With this mindset, I am possibly freer to teach creatively and help students learn, rather than being tied to the book limiting my time to teaching innovatively.
This choice rests with you, the reader, to realize that opinions based on unexamined assumptions could lead to a never-ending cycle of disagreements in degrees of opinion rather than building a culture of genuine teaching and learning excellence. We must then go beyond an educational reality bogged down with opinions, unexamined assumptions, non-representational language, and a general dismissal of education.
I hope that after reading these words you are willing to engage in self-reflective exercises to clarify and evaluate your own assumptions. Maybe by engaging in this reflective process you realize and discovery that the effective educator has been inside of you all along and that each of us has the potential to engage in spirited culture of teaching and learning excellence. What would this look like? I would hope that is a culture where faculty are willingly to 1) reflect deeply about their ‘inner core curriculum,’ 2) engage in using evidence-based practices, and 3) speak in a language that mirrors what they actually do: teach students by helping them learn. The first step toward building an authentic culture of teaching and learning begins with each one of us working together, because our new set of assumptions tells us that change towards excellence is the right thing to do.