For the last three months I have been working at Sydney University each Tuesday. I’ve been running seminars for the #EDMT5500 course, Introduction to Teaching and Learning – kinda mental, huh? I’ll admit that it has been a really challenging experience for me. Not because the content of what I have to teach is difficult of foreign to me, but simply because I have only two hours a week with these awesome people who have chosen to be teachers and I feel it simply isn’t enough time to get to know them. I mean, I’ve tried really hard to get to know their names and how they learn (super important to me as an educator) and to also cram into that time everything that I think a new teacher should know and be able to do.
Like most teachers (I hope), I believe that learning through doing is more powerful than learning through listening. I’ve done my best to have my students engage actively in the types of activities and learning experiences that I’d like to see them create for their students. But it is a challenge to not stand up the front and just talk about my experience as a teacher. You see, these guys are super excited to have a practising teacher in the room with them for two hours a week. They have so many questions about teaching and learning (of course I don’t know all of the answers), that at times we just fall into semi-casual discussions about my experiences and my beliefs. That last bit is the rub, of course … when I’m up the front and they are all asking questions, it’s hard not to believe that my ideas and opinions are the most important, the more right. I think that’s symptomatic of the ‘sage on the stage’ experience – feeling superior because of our location within the room and the attention we garner. This is problematic in high schools but it’s down-right dangerous in universities.
Anyway, apart from that little bit of self-criticism, I think that overall my experience has been super positive. Mostly I’ve just been skimming the weekly notes/PPT for the week and then running with my own ideas about what is central and most relevant for my students. They have been introduced to so many teaching approaches, strategies, tools, theorists, practitioners and activities that I think none of them really have a reason to start their teaching career as a ‘sage on the stage’ unless it’s what they truly desire to be. I hope that from our course they’ve been challenged to think differently about teaching and learning and that they’ve discovered that the labels ‘teacher’ and ‘learner’ can be applied to every individual who is participating in the learning experience.
Here is just a super quick list of what my #EDMT5500 students have been exposed to during the first 9 weeks of the Introduction to Teaching and Learning course. I’d really love it if you commented below with other approaches, strategies, tools, theorists, practitioners and activities that you think a new teacher should be exposed to before getting their first class!
- Elmore’s instructional core
- Tait Coles’ punk learning approach
- Design Thinking (iDesign)
I’m sure there’s a bunch of other things we have covered but I can’t remember, lol.