When I started teaching, I wanted to make a dent in the world. For years I tried to bring knowledge, showmanship, and pyrotechnics into the classroom because I thought that's would help me win hearts and minds.
I wanted to dazzle and amaze, because I had a new PhD just burning a hole in my pocket. It was a thrill being the expert, but it wasn't good teaching. I kept at it until I realized I wasn't creating autonomy in my students. I was turning them into dependents. I wasn't thinking about who they were and how they were learning, I was giving them a show, and I got good evals for my trouble.
Over the course of a year, I realized this was no longer the right way to go about things. I found my way into research that said almost everything that is normal in the classroom is the wrong way to get the outcomes we want. It dawned on me that I was trying to design courses like rock concerts, when what everyone really needed was a jam session on the front porch.
For the last few years, I have experimented with my teaching a great deal, and as a result I've distilled what I've learned from those experiments into five mantras:
1. Become unnecessary.
2. Technology is a means, not an end.
3. Give everyone a reason to be in the room.
4. Assessment is for me.
5. This class is where the sidewalk ends.