While this blog post speaks specifically to my teaching colleagues,
we can all draw inspiration and clarification
when we stop and examine what we do.
On my campus, we have two weeks of classes and a week of final exams in front of us. The semester is quickly winding down. Some of my colleagues are laser focused on finishing the course material. Others prepare their final assessments. And still others, may simply be limping to the finish line, tired after a semester of grading, committee work, mandates, and student challenges.
While the natural tendency might be to rush to the end of the semester and the beginning of the summer, this time of year affords a wonderful time to reflect on where we have been and, more importantly, where we would like to go with the next semester. Toward that end, my blog readers who are teachers may find the following three exercises compelling. If you are NOT a teacher, pass this along to one you know.
- Your Syllabus. For this reflective exercise, have a copy of your most recent syllabus in front of you. A typical review could include a look at your pacing (did you stay on target?) and your assignments/assessments (did they do what you had thought they would?). For this exercise, dig a bit deeper.Flip through the pages of your syllabus. Pause and observe the structure, the emphases, the length, recurring themes, the detail, and the appearance. Answer the following questions.
- What theme(s) resonated throughout your syllabus?
- What does your syllabus say about you as a teacher?
- If this is the only thing a student had to form an opinion about you, what would that opinion be?
- How do you know your syllabus is effective?
- How could it be more effective?
- How do you know?
- What will you definitely keep for the next time around—and what will you consider revising or eliminating?
- Your Calling. The exercise above (Your Syllabus) focuses on a specific tool of your profession. This exercise asks you to take a 30,000 foot view. Think of your calling (teaching) from when you entered it until now. Reflect on the ideas and conceptions you brought to your calling. Consider how you have grown into (or out of) the calling. Think about the significant people you have mentored or who have mentored you.
- Based on your experiences what and who have been instructive and meaningful in your calling?
- How have you come to know this? That is, what are you using for game film?
- Who/What has helped you to come to this conclusion?
- Is your passion as stronger, stronger, or weaker, than when you entered your calling?
- Add anything else you believe would be helpful to your reflection.
- Difference Maker. Describe a situation in which you made a difference as a teacher—a real difference in someone’s life. It could be a student or a colleague.
- Again, start with identifying your game film. What did you use to gather your reflections?
- Describe the circumstances of this difference making situation.
- What did you do?
- Why did you do it?
- What specific difference did you make?
- Why do you consider this a difference maker in the person’s life?
- How does this connect with your reasons for choosing your calling?
Video recommendation for the week:
Socrates is said to have reminded us that the unexamined life is not worth living. Take time to day and make Socrates proud—and do yourself and those around you the service of quiet reflection.
While this blog post speaks specifically to my teaching colleagues, we can all draw inspiration and clarification when we stop and examine what we do.
Make it a great week. And H.T.R.B. as needed.
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(c) 2015. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.