I didn’t pay her, I swear.

It’s amazing how much life can come up between blog posts. I meant to follow up on a train of thought I started in the post before this, while I was composing a syllabus for the semester that’s now 3 weeks old! Here I am, syllabus devised and in action, my students wonderfully talented and dedicated, and me? I’m back to wrestling with questions about teaching and learning– inevitably, about my own teaching.

Here’s an attempt to pick up that fading train of thought.

In the comments, Kim asked the $64,000 question.

… how do you resist the urge to provide each baby step. . . break everything down like it’s baby formula? What’s the appropriate middle step between being instructionally supportive and being “enabling”?

My all-purpose answer is, put it up for discussion. Why not? Why not describe exactly what we see, then design the class so that they have to engage in the very processes they shy away from or appear unskilled in. (I never said I was queen of grammar….) Have them work together to accomplish analysis and comparison of texts (or whatever), design some product that uses their interpretations, then describe their exact process, what they would need to do differently to be more effective? Put all the projects in a wiki so the class could look at what they’d done and talk about how to assess the work?

I love that I can come up with such sure-fire answers, but find it so challenging to build my own classes around activities where my students do what I so often talk about. I’ve moved one step along, I think, in that I’m having students use all the course readings & activities as resources for their final paper, which is to describe their own visions of their academic subject or educational role. I’m also asking them to complete self-assessments along the way so that our grading process is more collaborative.

And what I really need– and want– to do is rethink my own assumptions and approaches that undergirded the instructional unpleasantness I experienced last semester.

That’s all.

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