About a month ago, Amanda and I received an interesting question from a Faculty Fridays reader.
Our colleague asked, “Does reaching one student make it all worth it? For example, if you try something new in class and it really resonates with one student, and you're not sure whether it impacted anyone else, is that a “win"?
Amanda and I each have a slightly different take on this.
Janine: I'm a yes… but! I think the broader range of teaching tools we use to facilitate learning the more likely we are to support more students. We may not be able to meet each students' learning preferences every day, but we should strive to support each student's success on balance. And remember, what is best for students is not necessarily what is most convenient for Instructors. That may feel a bit uncomfortable, but good teaching definitely takes effort. I'm certainly not suggesting I get it right every day, but student learning is worth the effort to try. Having said that, as part of a continually reflective practice, we should ask our students how activities support their learning. Then we can make informed decisions.
Amanda: I'm a yes… but! Trying new things in the classroom keeps me interested in my work and inspires me to continually up my teaching game. I think about the individual students and their individual needs within the larger group, but I want my effort to meet the needs of more students rather than fewer. If I try something new and it doesn't work for most of the students in the class, I don't think I could call that a win. There's always risk involved in trying something new and, if it doesn't work out superbly, it can feel pretty crummy. That said, the beauty of teaching is that one “bad" class isn't the end of the story for us as instructors – the next class with those same students is a second chance to start fresh!
What do you think? Asking for a friend!?!
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