¡Feliz año nuevo! I just downloaded Becky Thompson’s new book, Teaching with Tenderness: Toward an Embodied Practice. I’d been looking forward to reading it knowing a bit about the classroom environment that Becky works to cultivate, but I’ve hesitated as I haven’t felt that this type of classroom experience was possible as my face to face teaching is disappearing, and I fear my work becomes more and more disembodied. In preparation I’ve decided to revisit my teaching philosophy, for the first time for myself and not for a faceless job market.
My present philosophy focuses on language learning through building and connecting communities. Imagining a philosophy for 2018 I consider my fears — Teaching for an institution that relies more and more on modes of distance ed (compressed and point-to-point video) leaves me, and I’m guessing my students, screen fatigued. While I teach them that they cannot multitask successfully I am necessarily multitasking through every class, looking from the screen of students’ faces to my computer screen to the “real” faces in front of me. I’ve given up on disallowing phones in the classroom. I’ve seen the benefits of distance learning for working students, students who are parents, and all of the above. It means access and possibility. But I also see this as an alibi for not providing opportunities in the first place by way of financial support and affordable daycare on campuses. It’s like we’re holding onto the vestiges of the classrooms that once existed in denial that they’ve been gone.
Here is what I hope that I can do in the new year, without compromise —
- When we enter the classroom we respect the space by being present with everyone else in the room, whether that space is virtual or physical. We can sit in silence with each other without reaching for a distraction from the moment.
- The classroom does not need to be an emotionless space.
- We learn to fully listen to others.
- We can make mistakes together and support each other as we learn from them.
- I see the best in my students and follow a strength-based approach to guidance.
- I keep the bar high with respect to practice that requires skill building, critical analysis and deep thought. I can cut out any work that doesn’t serve those purposes in order to respect their time outside of class.
- My grading will be a tool for developing accountability and self awareness. It will not be used as punishment.
- I won’t avoid the manifestations of implicit biases that occur with seating arrangements or differential access to technology.
- Assessments will take into account the building of a solid base of knowledge, not just accumulation.
- We will make time to reflect, not only push forward.
- Culture will not be a stand alone topic, rather it will be integrated into the curriculum.
- The value of rigor will be emphasized, as a good in itself.
What does your philosophy look like? Have you found that you need to compromise or re-imagine your goals?