DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.

In my graduate programs, both theoretically aimed at producing professors, it struck me just how little of one's time was devoted to learning how to teach - the thing that a professor would spend most of his work time doing. I was determined to develop my teaching and make it better so I could do my job right. As it turned out, I didn't end up being a professor in the end - but that pedagogical development turned out to be very useful for an educational-technology career. In our office we talk a great deal about instructional design, a term I'd never heard as a graduate student or professor - but once I learned what instructional design was, I realized it was what I already did in my classes, I just hadn't heard the term.  

 

Thanks to the excellent Bok Center for Teaching and Learning, Harvard was an easier place than many to get pedagogical development. I regularly had my class sessions captured on video watched them with teaching consultants, who would sometimes come to visit the class as well. I also took the Graduate Writing Fellows workshop, which gave me helpful ideas about interdisciplinary writing across the curriculum.

 

But the Bok Center's best resource was the magnificent Nancy Houfek, a voice coach for the American Repertory Theatre who applies dramatic-arts techniques to the classroom. Nancy is one of the most charismatic teachers I know, but aims to demonstrate how that charisma can itself be taught. The video below introduces her and the workshops I took from her. Her teaching is something to aspire to.

 

As a professor I kept using my colleges' teaching resources, like the Crown Faculty Center at Colorado College, and Stonehill's Teaching Squares program for mutual peer faculty instruction. Most of all I benefitted from conversations with Stacy Grooters, who at the time was Stonehill's one-woman teaching centre. The majority of Stonehill students were not like the critical, motivated, engaged students I had had at Harvard and Cornell and CC; they were used to an authoritarian system of rote memorization. I had no idea how to teach students from that background, and somewhere near the end of the first semester, I had a near breakdown trying to do so. Stacy was clearly used to faculty in my situation and did a great job of talking me through it. In many respects I wound up learning more about teaching well at Stonehill than I did anywhere else, and I owe much of that to Stacy's help. 

 

Stacy introduced me to the POD Network, the association for pedagogical development, and I regularly follow developments on its listserv. As far as I'm concerned, my work at BU is all about pedagogical development - now for others rather than for myself. The important part of my job is to help professors teach more effectively. Technology is only there to serve that goal.

DRAFT: This module has unpublished changes.