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This past week I had the opportunity to work with faculty and administrators at Tallahassee Community College. I was there to facilitate a training session–by time I left, I was energized. What an honor to spend time with folks with such a dedication to student success. Creative, curious, and compassionate. Thank you, TCC, for your hospitality.
Among the topics of the day, I was asked to share a few thoughts about my teaching philosophy. In short, what drives my teaching? Every teacher needs to find his/her own rhythm in the classroom. I enjoyed the opportunity to share what drives my efforts. Here is my top five.
- Variety. It does not matter what level we teach (and I have taught 7th grade through university), a key to effective teaching is variety. Elementary school teachers have nailed it–switch gears frequently to keep the students engaged.
- Steak and Sizzle. You better have content when you walk into the classroom. Professional ethics require that we have “meat”–substance. Don’t waste the students’ time. At the same time, don’t bore them. Some scoff and say we should not entertain–we should educate. First, I don’t think the two are mutually exclusive. Second, I think of my time as a classroom student. Yes, I was turned on by the content–but there was nothing like a teacher who could parlay an exciting delivery with competence of content. Always maintain rigor. That does not, however, have to mean stale, dull, lifeless, and devoid of humanity. Always connect with the students as human beings.
Video recommendation for the week:
- Music and Video. Bring both into the classroom. Engage the multiple intelligences and varying learning preferences of the students. Again, this is not for entertainment purposes. No tool should ever drive the goal of the classroom. The goal should be enhanced/furthered by the tool. Create a YouTube channel; upload your own videos; download your “favorites” to use in class. Have fun!
- Text. Reading is as important in the Net-Gen Age as it ever was. The delivery has changed but the need to discern fact from fiction still remains an important skill. Find print resources on the Internet, in the local paper, in the school paper, a recent scholarly journal, or a student blog. Make it relevant…and further a timeless skill.
- EXPERIENCE. Whatever the teacher does, he/she should create an experience. The class should pop! I remember an old professor telling me a number of years ago that his job as a professor was to “profess.” His students were to absorb his professorial thoughts. Perhaps he was mesmerizing…I doubt it. Even in the era of high-stakes testing–or maybe because of them–we need to do more than “profess.” Engage, excite, energize–create an experience that will drive the class forward. A colleague of mine is found of asking his audiences, “If you took away grades and attendance, would your student still come to your class?” Hmm…..Create an experience with both sizzle and steak, and you make it more difficult for them not to come. That experience is what keeps me coming back to the classroom.
Video recommendation #2 for the week:
- BONUS. I am still a work in progress. Each semester I feel like I understand the craft to teaching a little bit more. And semester I realize how much I still have to learn. It is fun to explore and experience!
© 2011. Steve Piscitelli and Steve Piscitelli’s Blog.