February 2017 archive

Happy Professors Series: Helping Students Gain Courage

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“I started my career in education as an English teacher in Japan. The experience was life changing for me. I previously had little desire to pursue a career in education, however my experience teaching – and learning from – my elementary and junior high school students has steered me toward my current profession. The thing which I most enjoy about teaching is seeing how a classroom setting gives students the courage to come out of their shells and express their opinions and feelings. I believe my most positive experience thus far has been seeing my students move from having a paralyzing fear of the English language to courageously tackling speech competitions.”

~ Allan, College Instructor and Instructional Designer

How to Effectively Flip Your Classroom

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I’ve been using the ‘flipped classroom’ approach to teaching since before I knew what the term meant.

I’m sure I’m not the only instructor who intuitively felt that talking at students for a few hours each week, and then sending them home to do outside work wouldn’t be the best learning strategy. Instead, I had students tackle the material at home (with assigned reading and YouTube lectures I’d created), and then I tested that learning with activities and in-class work afterward to see where students needed extra help to fill the gaps in knowledge.

Most of us are used to the former approach since flipped learning is still relatively new, but the latter is becoming more accepted and increasingly effective as instructors are becoming more comfortable and creative with the flipped classroom approach, and we’re seeing more articles like the one below.

Some tips for effective assessment mentioned in the article are:

  • Start with good learning objectives.
  • Employ a “frequent and small” approach.
  • Use “preformative assessment.”
  • Act on, and share, the data you collect.

For those of you who have learned to navigate the flipped learning environment, hopefully you recognize the lingo above and were able to use the 4 strategies as a quick checklist to be sure you’re on the right with your teaching methods (I love a good checklist to remind me that I’m actually following the correct protocol!). If you’re not familiar with these strategies, or with flipped learning, I encourage you to read the article below and see if it’s an approach you might be interested in- it might be just the perfect fit for you!

Four Strategies for Effective Assessment in the Flipped Learning Environment


Happy learning and happy teaching!

Teacher Quotes for Valentine’s Day

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Because it’s Valentine’s Day, and we should all have a little more compassion and love for each other on this (slightly too commercialized) holiday, here are some moving teacher/professor quotes to make your day a little sweeter:

“My teacher thought I was smarter than I was- so I was.”

“Every kid is one caring teacher away from being a success story.”

“I call my students ‘my kids’ because in our time together they aren’t just kids on my class list, they become a part of my heart.”

Happy learning, living, and happy Valentine’s Day.

Taking a Pause


Sometimes you just need to take a pause.

I’m not talking about putting the brakes on a romantic relationship, but I am talking about giving your creative side some time to breath.

So many of us these days are adamant about chasing our passions. We’re afraid that if we’re not careful and disciplined enough about nurturing our creative projects that they’ll just simply slip away.

We pour our love, energy, and time into them hoping that with maybe less sleep and more focus we can finish our passion project quickly and with a touch of genius before we lose any bit of inspiration.

Sometimes it happens that way, and when it does it’s amazing. But then sometimes it doesn’t, and that’s when the worry sets in.

In Big Magic, Elizabeth Gilbert sends a powerful message to artists: It’s okay to take a break from your passion project for a day, a week, or even years (as scary as that might sound); it doesn’t mean it’s gone forever. True, that particular project might not hold as much interest for you down the road, but it doesn’t mean your ability to create and find that unstoppable drive is gone for good. And it also doesn’t mean that that project is over, it might just need time to evolve into something better.

You just need to wait.

Take time for new hobbies, simple projects, and time with friends. Take time to remember what the day-to-day can feel like without that wild drive to build something (I’m not saying it’s easy, but the contrast can be restful, helpful, and eye-opening).

As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been in limbo between projects for over a year now- deliberately, as an attempt to slow down. However, like all type A’s with an artistic streak, I do worry that my imaginative muscle isn’t getting the exercise it needs.

Then I remember that there have been times like this before, and I know better. The artist inside isn’t gone, she’s just resting up for the next big, all-consuming and absolutely incredible project.

Happy learning, living, and creating.