After 28 years of teaching college courses full-time (and another 5 years of part-time teaching), I have decided to retire. I couldn't have chosen a better career and thank all of my colleagues and former students for the memories...Now it's off to a new adventure!
This professor poses the questions we've all had at some point in our teaching career...
What would happen if I walked into class and left my ipod
in? If I just pantomimed my way through a lecture while I actually rocked out
in my own little ipod world? It would look like I was teaching, just
like it looks like you (chick in the 7th row to the left) are paying
attention to me. Or, what if I lectured and played a video game at the same
time? Instead of slides, you could see my game. Or if I just decided to work on
the campus newspaper crossword puzzle (how can that take you all class period?
It’s ridiculously easy, if you want, I can just give you all the answers in the
first 2 minutes of class). Hmmm…what if I just interrupted class to take a call
on my cell phone, or sent a text message or two. Oooh I know, what if I just
ripped off a lecture from the internet. You know, it would be completely and
obviously distinct from my usual lecture style. The organization would be
different, the format of my slides would be different, it would just scream “I
DIDN’T DO THIS” but I just passed it off to you like it was my own work. I will
have to try these things. I’ll consider it pedagogical research and will begin
as soon as I get tenure.
Today is the 7th anniversary
of this blog on teaching tips. I would like to thank everyone who has commented on
the blog or emailed me with their own tips, stories, and links. I have
learned so much from all of you.
Thomas L. Friedman, in his article, “Need a Job? Invent It”
emphasizes the need to be more creative in searching for a job. As he notes:
“...because knowledge is available
on every Internet-connected device, what you know matters far less than what
you can do with what you know. The capacity to innovate — the ability to solve
problems creatively or bring new possibilities to life — and skills like
critical thinking, communication and collaboration are far more important than
The Washington Post recently published this open letter from a high school teacher to college professors warning us what we can expect in years to come. It's very interesting and I already see some of the issues that she points out. I also get feedback from students who are upset that I expect them to proofread their papers and catch their own spelling errors in a management course...
If you're like me, you have a small number of passwords you use on your various sites: bank accounts, email accounts, credit cards, blogs, etc. And while I worry sometimes about the security of my accounts, I also find it aggravating to have numerous passwords to remember. However, here's a very interesting article on how hackers can hack into your passwords.
My son works for Microsoft and says the
best protection against having your passwords hacked is to employ "good password standards." For example:
Don't use a single word - multiple words are better.
Use multiple "character types" - upper case, lower case, number, or
symbol - in your password. Microsoft requires three character types.
Have a minimum password length. Microsoft sets theirs to 7 or 8, I would
set it to longer personally.
Make your passwords expire: that way there's a limited window of
opportunity that hackers can use your password before they're required to steal
His final advice? "It
sounds funny but the best approach for seldom-used passwords: like the
password to your router at home, for example - is to set an impossibly complex
password, say 15 random characters - and then write it down somewhere safe for
when you need it."
I'm reading this article by Professor Jorie Scholnik (Santa Fe College)on five things students should refrain from saying. As she notes: "effective
professors care about their classes, put a lot of time into grading and
lesson planning and genuinely want students to take away some knowledge
from the course." Thus, asking the professor if he or she is doing anything important today is not going to win a student any points.
The following poem by Tom Wayman comes to mind...
DID I MISS ANYTHING?(Question frequently asked by students after missing a class)
Nothing. When we realized you weren't here we sat with our hands folded on our desks in silence, for the full two hours
Everything. I gave an exam worth 40 percent of the grade for this term and assigned some reading due today on which I'm about to hand out a quiz worth 50 per cent
Nothing. None of the content of this course has value or meaning Take as many days off as you like: any activities we undertake as a class I assure you will not matter either to you or me and are without purpose
Everything. A few minutes after we began last time a shaft of light suddenly descended and an angel or other heavenly being appeared and revealed to us what each woman or man must do to attain divine wisdom in this life and the hereafter This is the last time the class will meet before we disperse to bring the good news to all people on earth
Nothing. When you are not present how could something significant occur?
Everything. Contained in this classroom is a microcosm of human experience assembled for you to query and examine and ponder This is not the only place such an opportunity has been gathered
“The whole idea of motivation is a trap. Forget
motivation. Just do it. Exercise, lose weight, test your blood sugar, or
whatever. Do it without motivation. And then, guess what? After you
start doing the thing, that’s when the motivation comes and makes it
easy for you to keep on doing it.”
“As you begin changing your thinking, start immediately to change
your behavior. Begin to act the part of the person you would like to
become. Take action on your behavior. Too many people want to feel, then
take action. This never works.”
I came across this post by John Richardson that really illustrates what I hope to accomplish in the classroom. He asks:
you ever been in a class that was so impactful that you came away so
excited that you wanted to tell all of your friends about it? Have you
had a teacher with the extraodinary talent to keep you totally immersed
in the subject, where everything just seems to click? Have you had a
teacher take the extra time to find out your needs and to personally
help you with a project or assignment?...You walk away from their class
excited and with a renewed sense of direction. You want to do the
assignments and learn more. All of a sudden learning has gone from
laborious and boring to exciting and rewarding.
goes on to quote William Arthur Ward who says…The mediocre teacher
tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The
great teacher inspires.
Don't we all aspire to be one of those great teachers?
always thought there was no such thing as a stupid question. Even when I
thought the answer to a student’s query was obvious, the college
student apparently did not know the answer and thus my job was to
respond to his or her question accurately and with patience. Even
when a second student asks me the same question in class five minutes
later, I think to myself that perhaps I didn’t explain the concept well
enough the first time. However, something that one of my brightest and most engaged students (a finance
major!) said to me has me rethinking my original hypothesis. At the end of class, he came up to me and wanted to know if I had all the grades in the class written down somewhere. After I looked at him with a raised eyebrow, even he sheepishly commented, “That was a stupid question, wasn’t it?”
A colleague topped that though with his sad but true story about a student who was doing poorly in class. When
the professor questioned as to why the student was failing, the
student’s response was that it was not his fault …his roommate had a
learning disability and he thought he had caught it!
I recently received a catalog from The Great Courses at a special sale of 70 percent off. These include history, science, math, literature, and lots more. Has anyone ever bought one of these? I'm curious as to the quality of the instruction.
A couple month ago I read The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg.
It's a fascinating study of how much habit plays a part in our daily
lives and how we
can change bad habits. He also discusses how organizations can break bad
habits that their employees have that affect safety or productivity. It's one of the books I have on my syllabus for a MBA Leadership class I just started teaching.
One of the things I like most about Twitter is the ability to connect with others to share links and information.Leslie Anglesey (University of
Southern California) shares her tips on how students can use Twitter for paper assignments such as reaching out to experts to ask questions and participating in discussions on paper topics.