As I learn more and more about teaching and how to prepare a brain to receive and remember information, I added three key components to my college classroom: more fun, more hands-on activities, and more choice. I’m learning that, just like anything you don’t want to do, it you make it more fun, it’s more easy to endure. As you know, I teach advanced writing, so the potential for boredom surely exists!
This semester, I added in more fun including elements of more music, more student interaction, more games, and more random things like making a slideshow of everyone’s pets and bringing in unexpected treats. I have a colleague that always features a joke of the day before class starts. I love that! So remember: more fun.
For more hands-on work to get their bodies involved, I’m doing more crafty things like drawing out concepts or folding paper to organize information for a project. One professor I know invites a different student to lead a mid-class dance. Even simply getting students to take a walk around campus to talk with their peer group matters for learning.
For more choice, I’m allowing students to customize some assignments to what best fits them. I’m also allowing them to choose the kinds of persuasive modes they want whether video, presentations, or writing for some projects. I’m learning how good it makes a student feel when they enjoy some control over the syllabus, too. After two years of feeling so helpless and out-of-control with the pandemic, choice feels nice.
I’m evolving as a professor, and so far, so good.