Slow Teaching a message for midsemester
February 28, 2023
In general, I am a fan of efficiency. For example, I grade with rubrics because of their clarity, I post all course materials on Canvas for easy accessibility, and I copy materials from one class to the next so I don’t need to re-build content each go-round. However, lately I’ve been thinking about the benefits of “slow teaching” as a strategy to ensure that my students have ample time to digest and make meaning of course materials. By slow teaching I mean that I dive more deeply into class discussion and spend more time listening to the students as they build connections with the topic of the day. I find myself asking “why” more often when they answer questions, to nudge them into deeper analysis. I also provide the students with multiple ways to reflect on what they’ve learned.
My thinking in this vein comes from many sources, including from Jose Antonio Bowen’s Teaching Change, where he explains:
Teachers never have enough time. We spend much of our design effort and class time on content and sequence, and planning and conducting reflective practices demand even more time away from content. The choice, however, is clear. We can cover more, knowing that its impact will not last much past the final exam, or we can redesign to teach less content and more thinking…We can find comfort in the science that shows that content does not promote change unless it is accompanied by reflection. (p. 296)
Some strategies I have used to encourage reflection:
- Have students write weekly discussion board or blogposts with question prompts that encourage them to apply what they have learned in class
- Structure a group discussion around asking the 5 Whys about a specific problem or issue, and then have students record their responses in a collaborative JamBoard.
- Allow students to select a concept from the reading and then explore how others discuss that concept on a social media platform such as Twitter or Youtube. Have them create a Padlet board with these various responses and embed this in a reflection about what they learned.
- Assign a cognitive wrapper via Canvas, for each student to fill out when turning in a key course assignment
A few other links that you may find useful, intriguing, and inspiring:
- Inclusion is important, from the Fowler School of Engineering
- Digging into History in Baltimore’s backyards
- A HigherEd Poll about the impact of ChatGPT
- #Disabled: Just Say the Word
- The mouth-watering food diary of an Adjunct Instructor in Austin, Texas
- What I’m Watching: I Didn’t See You There
- What I’m reading: Ducks, a comic about working in the oil sands by Kate Beaton
- A Love Letter to Libraries