Thanks to all who attended our 9/18/12 New Faculty Forum, “The Culture of Teaching at UH”

We had about 15 faculty from a variety of departments on campus attending our session yesterday, and I was pleased to hear that so many of the faculty in attendance had prior experience teaching before coming here–either as graduate TAs, adjuncts, or visiting faculty elsewhere.  I am also grateful to Sandy Coltharp of HR and Holly Hutchins of the Commission on Women for sponsoring this brown bag event.

During this session, I drew upon the CTE’s Instructional Modules in Reflection and Engagement, as well as the Saroyan and Amundsen book discussed earlier at our TA Orientation, to introduce faculty to the notion of reflective teaching practices.

One of the highlights was our discussion of the question, “What do you wish you or your students had known when they arrived in college?

This got a number of interesting responses:

  • Buy the text book the first week!
  • Read as much as you can now–you will never have the resources later
  • Success in college requires a different level of study and discipline than success in high school.
  • Be more open and interested in the world around you!
  • Connect your actions in class with your overriding goal.
  • Understand why you are taking the class, and what you hope to learn from it.
  • Or, to put it another way, understand what the course is going to do for you, and how you are going to use it?

This brought forward an important observation from the group: as teachers, understanding who the students are–their backgrounds, their struggles, their aspirations–makes it easier for you to explain things to them in a way they can understand.

This is one way that exploring students’ prior knowledge (their motivations, attitudes, and dispositions towards your subject matter) at the beginning of the semester can help you immeasurably towards communicating with them for the rest of the term.

So what do you wish you had known, either as a student or as a brand-new faculty member, when you arrived at a new college?

DM

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