Sustaining the Energy and Maintaining the Growth

I often start out each semester eager to try a few new things in the classroom, or to pay particular attention to certain aspects of my teaching.  As the semester progresses, I often find myself slipping into the pattern of past routines, less eager or able to find the time to reflect as deeply or to focus as intentionally on expanding my own skills.

Here at the University of Colorado Denver, we’re starting our fourth week of classes.  One of the classes that I’m teaching this semester is the history of mathematics.  As part of an NSF-funded grant, Transforming Instruction in Undergraduate Mathematics via Primary Historical Sources (TRIUMPHS), I’m mentoring a graduate student in the use of primary sources projects in the classroom.  This is helping to sustain my intentionality with regard to my preparation as well as my choice of instructional practices. In this role, I have been pondering both how to be a good mentor as well as how to keep working to learn and grow in my own teaching throughout the entirety of the semester.

This has led me to return to some of our past blog posts that I found particularly helpful to read or write, which I want to share. Below are links to some of these past blog entries which focused directly on some aspect of classroom teaching practices, and that I want to use throughout the next few months to keep my energy level up for my teaching. I hope you can find something here to energize you as well.

The first is a link to the editorial board’s six-part series on active learning that appeared in 2015:

This was followed up by an article in the Notices of the AMS from February 2017:

This next entry by Steven Klee at Seattle University focuses on how to encourage increased student interactions during group work by having them work together at the board:

One of my all-time favorites, by Art Duval at the University of Texas at El Paso, focuses on if telling jokes and making class humorous is really beneficial to student learning, or if it unnecessarily takes away precious time that the instructor and students have together:

And, finally, a post from Allison Henrich at Seattle University, reminding us of the wonderful value of mistakes in the learning process, and sharing ideas of how to help students be comfortable with making and discussing mistakes in the classroom:

As you progress through your semester, I hope you find something in these various posts to keep you energized and growing in your own practice of teaching.

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