Culturally Responsive Teaching: Looking at the “Man” in the Mirror While Looking at Your Students.

When tasked with this opportunity to lead a discussion on Culturally Responsive Teaching, I both leapt for joy and cringed in the corner. I am super excited to talk about something I am extremely passionate about while at the same time mortified to tell my peers how they need to self evaluate while at the same time teach a spectrum of students who have different needs, wants, desires, personalities, backgrounds, education, and the list goes on and on. What have I gotten myself into? Here goes….

Culturally Responsive Teaching (CRT) is defined as “An educator’s ability to recognize students’ cultural displays of learning and meaning making and respond positively and constructively with teaching moves that use cultural knowledge as a scaffold to connect what the student knows to new concepts and content in order to promote effective information processing. All the while, the educator understands the importance of being in a relationship and having a social-emotional connecttion to the student in order to create a safe space for learning” (Hammond 15).

Among all the definitions of this concept, this book provides, in my opinion, the most accurate and effective meaning of this term, for it points back to the master and boss of the classroom, the instructor, us!!!! In Hammond’s definition, she points to us, the practitioners, the experts, the adults, to do the work of not only holding the student responsible for his/her education and success but in conjunction with those of us who disseminate information and who create the curriculum and lesson plans. She uses the word relationship pretty often in her text which means as instructors, we have to do more than simply greet students, call roll, answer emails, sit in office hours, and grade papers. Is that part of our jobs, yes, but that is not all that we should be doing. We need to see our students as people who need our guidance, understanding, and sometimes, dare I say, mercy. Our students are not just numbers on a roster or a misplaced period or comma; they are people who deserve to be seen, heard and acknowledged.

At its core, CRT is not merely understanding you have students from different racial and ethnic groups, students who are LGBTQI, deaf students, older students, younger students, male/female students. What CRT calls us to do as instructors is not to instruct but to teach, and there is a difference. A good teacher/professor does what Hammond and others say all the time which is first acknowledge our own implicit biases that may prohibit us from interacting with a certain person or a certain group altogether. Once you have done that, you now have to own it and deal with it. If you are sitting here reading this and say you do not have a problem or apprehension about a certain group, you need to be honest with yourself because we all have some implicit biases even if it is just a smidgen. Hammond insists “This might not be an issue in our day’to-day lives, but when we are the authority figure in the classroom, we have the power to penalize those students who seem to be acting in ways that are inconsistent with our cultural view” (56). Who are you penalizing because of what you think is going on or how you think the student is? Have you done that? I know I have, and I am ashamed.

Ok now that I have told yall I have penalized students (please do not revoke my tenure), what now? Simple!! I am going to have a S.O.D.A. (stop, observe, detach, and awaken). That is not mine; it came from Hammond. After I read this, I really looked at how I approached, interacted with, and reacted to certain groups; I had to check myself.

Image result for you better check yourself before you wreck yourself

As I bring my ramble to a close (sorry this is too long), I implore you to be a great teacher/professor and not merely an instructor and to look in the mirror and take inventory of your own crap and shortcomings and biases before you demonize and dismiss our students.

Image result for thank you for listening

Great Texts to Read:

  • Whistling Vivaldi – Claude Steele
  • Pedagogy of the Oppressed – Paulo Freire
  • White Like Me: Reflections on Race from a Privileged Son – Tim Wise
  • For White Folks Who Teach in The Hood…and the rest of yall too – Christopher Emdin
  • That Thing Around Your Neck – Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie
  • Anything bell hooks

Quick questions:

  1. What are some techniques you use to make sure every student feels comfortable to share in your classroom?
  2. What are some antiquated or just down right wrong activity or pedagogy that you have axed because you know it was not student-centered?
  3. What do you want your students to get out of your classroom besides how to use a comma, how to write an essay, how to perform research, etc?
  4. How do you present yourself as an ally/advocate to ALL students.
  5. What is the difference between teaching and instructing?

9 thoughts on “Culturally Responsive Teaching: Looking at the “Man” in the Mirror While Looking at Your Students.

  1. cmrosales

    Thank you for starting this discussion, Star! I appreciate how you framed this discussion in terms of who we are to our students (or who we can be) and who are students are to us. I also appreciate a good Yoda reference 🙂 So, I’ve thought about your questions and here’s what I’ve come up with:

    1. What are some techniques you use to make sure every student feels comfortable to share in your classroom?

    This is something I continue to struggle with each semester. I try and set up a sense of community in the classroom as early as possible, but the success of this can change from semester to semester — or even from hour to hour. What works well in one class can be a disaster in another. But, I think I’ve come to realize that students appreciate the effort. If they notice that we are trying to build a connection with them, then they may be more willing to share with us. I’ve tried Kelly’s suggestion of getting a list of songs from students and creating a playlist for each class. I think this shows how we are making an effort to hear our students, even if it’s something as seemingly trivial as a song choice.

    2. What are some antiquated or just down right wrong activity or pedagogy that you have axed because you know it was not student-centered?

    I don’t “cold call” students in class anymore. I know there are differing viewpoints on this and in some situations, “cold calling” could work. For example, sometimes I’ll read over a student’s writing and in the margins I’ll alert them that I may call on them to share their brilliant question or comment. It’s not as “on the spot” as cold calling, but it does allow me to encourage voices in the classroom to speak, especially if we haven’t heard from them much. One of the reasons I don’t like cold calling myself is because I just remember being that student who would take time formulating my response in my head before even beginning to muster up the courage to raise my hand. (Who am I kidding, I’m still this person sometimes). It’s not that I didn’t have a response, or didn’t want to contribute, it’s just that I was still working it out.

    BTW, Aja Martinez has a great article called, “A Plea for Critical Race Theory Counterstory: Stock Story vs. Counter-story Dialogues Concerning Alejandra’s ‘Fit’ in the Academy.” In it, she contrasts instructors perceptions of a student who seems ill-prepared and unfit with the student’s own perceptions of what’s going on in the classroom. It’s a great read. I have a PDF copy if anyone wants it.

    3. What do you want your students to get out of your classroom besides how to use a comma, how to write an essay, how to perform research, etc?

    Confidence, a sense of agency, awareness of intention, the ability to listen to each other, an appreciation for diverse voices and experiences…

    4. How do you present yourself as an ally/advocate to ALL students.

    I’m not sure if this does that, but here’s what I do: I like to share my educational story or literacy narrative with them. I think that if they see that I have been in their shoes and understand the struggle, then they can reach out to me because I’ve been there, or I’ve been someplace like “there” — wherever they are. I’ve also been working on listening more and trying to do what I can for a student based on the individual student need. I struggle with this though because I’m always wondering where the line is between advocating and being an ally to a student and being too forgiving , if that’s even a thing.

    5. What is the difference between teaching and instructing?

    Hmmm…that’s a hard one. Teaching to me, maybe, is more about guidance. I can’t put all of the information in their heads, but I can help them find it and think about it and practice it. I can see instruction as perhaps modeling and then having students mimic? I’m not sure about this one, so I’m eager to hear what others think about this 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. John Sullivan

      Carolyn, could you email me that article please?

      I try to involve the students as much as possible through group discussions and activities and hands on work. I have also started sending a reminder for the next class at the end of each class session, and I compose it in front of the students as a Canvas announcement so they can add whatever I might have forgotten. Bridging that gap has become crucial since so many of the students are now taking 15 to 18+ units and working and having family responsibilities. They are really overwhelmed. I think being attuned to that and recognizing the signs so we can offer help or direct them to where they can get help is important. I have done more recommendations to the health center for mental health this semester than in most of my previous semesters combined.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Rob H

    This is an amazing start to the convo so far; here are my humble thoughts:

    What are some techniques you use to make sure every student feels comfortable to share in your classroom?

    -On the first day, I (along with a lot of us now) let the students tell me their name, rather than reading out the roster. I think that this is super-important in framing the class as around them, not me. As an English nerd, names are very important to me; they contain power, and I want students to understand they have power inside my classroom from day one.
    -I also create an atmosphere in which it is okay to be confused about the readings and sometime make it the main topic of reading discussion for the day.
    -I also move away from the frames of crime and punishment they may have learned in earlier schooling (since schooling is traditionally used to make docile workers). This means that students are not punished for being late to class or coming to class unprepared. I tell them that we all have bad days and that if something like that becomes a pattern I will be taking them aside and talking to them not because I’m interested in punishing them, but because I’m interested in giving them every chance at success.

    What are some antiquated or just down right wrong activity or pedagogy that you have axed because you know it was not student-centered?

    For this question, it is more about why I do student centered activities. I was taught teaching using the student deficit model, and student centered activities were framed as techniques to keep them busy to cut down on misbehavior. It took me a few years to reject the deficit model and instead understand the revolutionary potential for student centered activities.

    What do you want your students to get out of your classroom besides how to use a comma, how to write an essay, how to perform research, etc?

    -I am always thinking about this, like always. Like keeps me up at night sometimes. As a white gay cis man (whose identity has only been recently accepted by the bourgeoisie), and who, as an individual, as recent full time faculty, is finding himself more and more concerned with bourgeois matters, I am always thinking about the ways in which I may be misinterpreting student behavior (if we are thinking about poverty vs. bourgeoisie, it is very easy for the latter to use deficit thinking in understanding the former). I am always checking myself in this matter (and I have for most of my teaching career).

    -Lately, I’ve been going back again and again to Assata Shakur’s quote:
    “No one is going to give you the education you need to overthrow them. Nobody is going to teach you your true history, teach you your true heroes, if they know that that knowledge will help set you free.”

    I keep asking myself: “What texts do I need to provide, discussions do I need to foster, relationships do I need to cultivate, writing assignments do I need to craft, so that my students can ultimately overthrow me?”

    How do you present yourself as an ally/advocate to ALL students.

    I do a lot of what Carolyn talked about; I talk about my own experiences. I did not, in any way, have the normal academic trajectory. I hated school in a lot of ways and, especially in regards to higher education, avoided it or utilized dysfunctional behaviors when I did have to interact with it for a long time. I always hope this helps my students understand that I know (a little) of what they are going through and that I’m there to help.

    What is the difference between teaching and instructing?

    To me, teaching is the stuff the students can do on their own, the banking aspect (I need to know about “x,” so I say “Ok Google x,” I read the info, and I have just been taught). Instructing is everything else we do.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. SasquatchEnthusiast1221

    1. What are some techniques you use to make sure every student feels comfortable to share in your classroom?

    One of the practices I try to do, especially early in the semester, is ask each student at roll a quick question about the reading. As Kelly mentioned in one of our English 1A workshops from the last time she observed my class, I think in my British lit class, when we were discussing Othello, the question was “In six words or less, tell me what’s Iago’s deal?” As I went student to student, this “roll” took a big chunk of class time, but it ensured that every single student got to weigh in a little. Beyond specific techniques, I try to make the first unit or two revolve around students telling me about their experiences and specifically addressing their fears. This semester in my English 1AH, my first unit was on how students felt about education, and they drew on texts from Katie Hern, Rebecca Cox, Claude Steele, and Carol Dweck to articulate how they and others relate to their educational experiences. My second unit was all about family (and its numerous implications) and I asked students to connect readings about all different kinds of families to their own experiences. While I intentionally designed this assignment to help me get to know my students, and to learn about them on their own terms, I was kind of shocked with how much my students shared (the prompt didn’t ask them to be super personal), and how vulnerable my students were with explaining their stories. As I graded their papers, I took intentional steps to validate their lived experiences and to communicate that their histories, stories, families, and cultures are important.

    2. What are some antiquated or just down right wrong activity or pedagogy that you have axed because you know it was not student-centered?

    I ditched the majority of my quizzing, instead opting for assignments asking students to respond to text, be that through metacognitive reading assignments (hijacked from lots of 3CSN reading apprenticeship pedagogy) in my composition courses, and weekly reading responses in my literature courses. I just think valuing the student’s perspective on the material and allowing them to be part of the conversation is a lot more valuable to me and to their learning than memorizing specific details of a text. For instance, in my Bible as Lit class, I’m way more interested in hearing what students have to say about the character of Samson in the Hebrew Bible than accurately reporting how many enemies he slew with the jawbone of a donkey.

    3. What do you want your students to get out of your classroom besides how to use a comma, how to write an essay, how to perform research, etc?

    I want students to be able to articulate their ideas, and to help them strengthen their ideas to be more persuasive, more accurately reflective of what they’re trying to say, more clear, or more effective with a variety of audiences. But beyond that, I want all my students to know that their ideas MATTER. What they believe is important. It’s not about what I want them to understand from readings. What I care about is how they respond to them. Finally, I want my students to know that they are CAPABLE. So many of my students come to my English classes convinced that they can’t write, or as they put it, “I suck at English.” Part of my goal as a teacher is to validate and empower students to believe that they are MORE than capable at learning the reading, writing, and critical thinking skills in my syllabus, and that I’m there to help them out every step of the way.

    How do you present yourself as an ally/advocate to ALL students.

    In addition to the above strategies, I try to individualize my teaching as much as possible to let students know that I care about them as whole people who have lives, families, cultures, ambitions, interests and dreams outside my class. In the beginning of the semester, I do exercises and assignments that ask students to tell me about themselves (a “Get to Know You” sheet), and I also make liberal use of the “Fear Box” where I let students share anonymous issues they’re confused, unsure, or stressed out about. My goal is to let all the students know it’s OK to be in-process and not have it all figured out, and that I’m willing to help out. After the semester has gotten rolling, I try to do as much individual checking-in as I can. When I see a student is absent more than once, I send an e-mail that will say something simple like, “Hey, I missed you in class this week. Anything I can help with? Let me know!” By doing this, it (hopefully) shows that 1) each student is an important part of my class, and they’re not invisible. 2) I’m there to help if they need me.

    What is the difference between teaching and instructing?

    I just finished grading the first round of take-home essays for my English 1A Honors class, along with one-on-one conferences. I think the difference between teaching and instruction often surrounds individualization. In my comments and my one-on-ones with students, I see myself much more as a coach than an instructor. It’s less about me being the keeper to knowledge, and more about me coming alongside students to help them articulate their ideas more clearly. It’s less about a uniform way of me saying “this is the only way to do this” and more about saying, “I think I see what you’re trying to do here — but if you did THIS it might be a little clearer to your audience.” Yesterday in a one-on-one conference, a common comment I made surrounded analysis of student evidence. I said to a number of students, “I can see that you’re making a connection here from the reading to your example in your head, but your audience will need to see that connection a little more clearly on the page. Walk me through why you thought this was quote was a strong one to use.” This commentary is really the individual teaching and coaching that I find students respond to vs. an impersonal lecture on connecting evidence to analysis. I’m attempting to validate the students’ rhetorical decisions, but help them articulate their point of view more clearly to an audience.

    Overall, I aim to reflect in my teaching, especially with students who are vastly different from me in experience or demography, a sentiment I read from Pedro Noguera this summer:

    “Differences in race, gender, or sexual orientation need not limit a teacher’s ability to make a connection with a young person… They tend to respond well to caring adults regardless of what they look like… [But students] can also tell if the adults who work with them are sincere, and those acting out of guilt and faked concern can generally be detected” (Noguera, 2008, p. 15).

    While Noguera was writing largely to a K-12 audience (hence “young people”), I believe this is true for college as well.

    So in my interactions with students, I constantly check myself with “Am I being sincere? Do I genuinely care about this student? Am I validating this student’s experience? Am I encouraging this student’s abilities? Am I showing this student that I care? Am I acting out of guilt or faked concern? My belief is that if I can address my students as real, three-dimensional people, with their own individual wants, needs, questions, comments, concerns, and experiences, and I can demonstrate that I’m there to support them and that I genuinely care, then–and only then–am I being the best teacher I can be.

    – Dan

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Audrey

    In this month’s blog, I really appreciated the mention of Hammond’s S.O.D.A. and the importance of self-reflection in the teaching process. It takes a lot of humility and honesty to examine one’s approach to teaching and identify weaknesses that are negatively impacting students. Speaking of antiquated pedagogy, I used to view my role of teaching more arrogantly, as if it was my job to “fill” the students with knowledge. However, a lot of self-reflection and schooling has allowed me to take myself out of “the center” of the classroom and facilitate students’ construction of meaning in more impactful ways.
    One way is by making a constant effort to examine how inequalities in the classroom are reflected in the way I present discussions and facilitate classroom interaction. Since issues of power and privilege don’t stop at the classroom door, I have tried to implement more opportunities for students to participate without privileging speech, which can open the door for the contribution of some students’ voices. I am sure we have all had classes where one or a few students tend to dominate the discussion, thus shutting down opportunities for others to participate. These situations also might intimidate other students or make them feel unworthy or stupid. Additionally, depending on the discussion topics and classroom dynamics, underrepresented or marginalized students may be hesitant to contribute or may be stifled by microaggressions.
    In order to combat these issues, providing opportunities that allow multiple voices to contribute are valuable. For instance, asking a critical question, where students first free write their answer and then transfer one of their main ideas to a co-constructed “bubble chart” of responses on the whiteboard (ALL IN SILENCE!!) is a great activity. Also, allowing for reflective pauses during class is helpful. For instance, after a time period of discussing a complex topic, an instructor can ask students to answer (on individual index cards) questions like, “What else is a significant part of the discussion that we still need to address?” or “What part of the discussion do we need to examine from another angle?” Index cards are then collected by the instructor, in order for him or her to facilitate the conversation in a way that acknowledges a marginalized voice without putting that student on the spot. These ideas come from Steven Brookfield’s Powerful Techniques for Teaching Adults, which has drastically changed my approach to teaching.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Jan from Toyota

    Thanks for starting this discussion, Star! I love how you emphasize the relationship part of teaching. When I was a newer and younger professor, I did a lot of work to try and distinguish myself and distance myself from my students. They would look at me like I was five years old, so I would go through my whole “this isn’t my first rodeo” routine. Now, as I look back, I imagine myself as a total caricature: shoulders back, puffed up, speaking in a “dad voice,” and for some reason, with arms like I am doing the robot. I can’t explain that last part, really, other than to say that I guess I was pretty much a robot, put in place to do this job, with the right qualifications and knowledge but missing some humanity (sorry, robots!).

    This idea has been brought up here before – I was so hard at work trying to prove my authority and expertise that I was erecting a barrier between me and my students, inhibiting or even preventing that social-emotional connection that is essential for culturally responsive teaching.

    But when I came to RCC, someone great decided that Kelly should be my mentor. And from her I learned that it’s okay to be more of my usual goofy self with my students – more than okay! It’s preferable, because when I am willing to share who I am, they are willing to share who they are, and when there’s a more real relationship, more real work can get done.

    So in my classes, I try to help students be comfortable being themselves, in school. One way is that I ask them to keep an engagement log, which helps me recognize the ways that students are participating that I might not see because they just don’t happen to be that talkative, dominating student that Audrey mentions in her post. I’ll also second the potential of roll call. Sometimes, like Dan, I’ll ask a question pertinent to the class – it’s such a great way to democratize the class discussion. Other times, I’ll just ask a general question. One day, we all shared boring facts about ourselves — boring because sometimes there’s too much pressure to be cool and because real life has boring bits that deeply impact who we are, what we think, what we do: “I take the bus to school.” “I have sleep apnea.” “I’m a mom.” “I work nights.” This week, during attendance, I asked my students to respond to their name with their catch phrase. It was a fun stress-reliever after they had just submitted an essay, and I got to hear them in ways I don’t often get to in the classroom. I want my students to know that there is space for their whole, authentic selves in the classroom – the mundane and the quirky, the serious and the fun, the student and the messy human – and to know that though there will always be social norms to navigate in different spaces, they can’t be the best they can be without still being who they are. To put it a different way, I want students to be confident about what they can bring to the classroom and to know that their different experiences and perspectives are valuable.

    This week, I read an essay from one of my 1A classes in which a student had written about Filipino lumpia and the role it plays in their family gatherings. It was the first time, ever, that I had seen and read something about someone like me while doing my job. I felt validated, understood, and connected. I immediately wanted to share! More! And then, I got to pass that on to students in Children’s Lit, where this week we’re looking at all kinds of books that act as mirrors, texts that feature characters in which we can see ourselves – in which my students can see themselves. I have loved seeing their flashes of recognition, witnessing the value of representation, and hearing the stories these texts encouraged all of my students to tell. It was such a powerful reminder that another way I can validate students’ experiences and perspectives is by being intentional when choosing readings and planning assignments.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wendy S

    Oh man, there is so much good information and so many good ideas in this post that I have no idea where to start. Thank you everyone for sharing! I’ve been thinking about equity in my classroom a lot the last few years, specifically about the barriers I’m creating, or perpetuating, that were set up by the system of higher ed. that I have deemed “normal.” One discussion I have with my students often, through a variety of texts that touch on this, is how this system was not created for us, but how we can and should enter it anyway in order to disrupt the power dynamics at play. I want students to feel empowered, like they belong, and like they can really create changes in these inequitable systems (in fact, I’d love to pick yall’s brains about service projects or high impact practices that allow students to make some kind of change on campus). Right now we are reading, “Certified Organic Intellectual,” which is a text that focuses on the power of narratives, and the importance of experience and personal knowledge that is often seen as “less important” or “not a credible” as the work done in academia. In their last essays, my students read “How to Slowly Kill Yourself and Others in America,” by Kiese Laymon, and we were able to discuss why I decided to bring in a creative nonfiction narrative into the class as opposed to just argumentative texts. They start to see that texts written by people who look like them or share their experiences are just as important as Shakespeare because we can learn so much from them.

    One thing I struggle with is making sure I include texts that my classes find value in. I have a diverse cannon, but because my students change each semester, I need to find better ways to finding readings each group will enjoy. For this reason, I hate choosing readings for essays before I meet my classes. What are some techniques you all use to choose texts after you’ve met your classes? What are texts you all recommend that students have found particularly valuable in your classes? I ask students what subjects they would like to read about or learn about, and I’m often able to accommodate at least some of those interests.

    I appreciate Audrey and Jan’s suggestions for getting more students to participate in a variety of ways, as this is something I still struggle with, especially when I get one of those particularly quiet classes (we’ve all had them!). I’m actually going to try a new techniques tomorrow, based on Jan’s idea of the engagement log, to have students tell me what grade they feel they have earned, based on what participation means to me, but also what it means to them. I like the idea of tracking this every day though, so it is something I will surely try in future semesters.

    In terms of Star’s questions, one thing I do to make students feel comfortable is I learn all their names day one. Several times throughout the class, I’ll stop and test myself, and they correct me if I’m wrong. By day two, there might be 3-4 I need a reminder for, but for the most part, I have the names down. Learning names this fast sort of shocks them into realizing I care enough to put that much effort into getting their names right. They see that I value them as individuals, and they feel more responsible for the work I ask them to do because they know “I’m watching.” I also take time to ask them how they are doing, check in if they were sick or if something was going on, to let them know I care.

    Some policies I have axed are the strict attendance policies. I’m still struggling through figuring out what my policy actually is, and how I can reflect that in my syllabus, but it is important that I don’t have a strict policy because every students is coming into higher ed. with a variety of responsibilities and issues they are dealing with. That isn’t to say I want to encourage student not to come to class, but I don’t want to fail a student who does all the works, meets the requirements, but misses 3 extra classes or something. I’m still working through this piece, but I know that being student-centered means shaping my policies around their realities as human beings.
    I’ve also stopped doing timed writings. At my previous institution, most of our students were immigrants or refugees, which means many of them were ESL students. As a department, we had a lot of conversation about the obstacles timed writings put in front of our students, especially since many of them are language learners. It takes them longer to write papers because they have to constantly look up words, or synonyms, they have to spend much more time proofreading, or translating words or phrases in their heads. Making native English speakers and non-native English speakers write a paper at the same level, in the same amount of time was just setting them up for failure. We talked about how we teach writing as a process. My students write three drafts of every paper, and we break them down into small pieces, from brainstorming, to outlining, to research if necessary, to drafting, to peer review, to more drafting, to feedback, to final drafts. We realized that our assessment using timed writing did not match the skills we had asked students to master. We taught them that writing is a long, arduous process, then we expected them to do all that work we took 4 weeks to do, in 2 hours. We also considered text anxiety. A cousin of mine had a seizure once, from such severe test anxiety. Why do we want to put students under that kind of pressure, when we can assess if they have met their course objectives in so many other ways? We also discussed use of resources. Students are taught not to memorize MLA, but to use OWL Purdue, or other resources, to look up the info. they need. In a testing environment, students don’t often have that ability without a computer in front of them, or their phones, which we don’t want them using for cheating purposes. Lastly, we spoke a lot about the practicality of a timed writing situation, and its application to their professional lives. In what situations, aside from in school, will these young professionals be put in a quiet room to write something in two hours without being to collaborate with others, use resources, take breaks, revise, ask questions, etc.? Maybe for the LSAT, or GRE, but not really in many places in the “real world.” For these reasons, I’ve stopped doing timed writing in my classes. I’ve replaced these kinds of assessments with final quizzes that students help me create based off the course SLOs, smaller writing assessments (maybe I’ll ask them to write a thesis for a prompt, or make an outline for what they might write), collaborative Escape Rooms, final papers, final critical reflections, collaborative quizzes, etc.

    What do I want students to get out of my class? Confidence. Voice. Empathy. I want them to be able to find value in the things they are doing right, as opposed to focusing in on only the things that are “wrong” or need improvement. I want them to see that improvement is an opportunity for growth, not a way to bring ourselves down. I want them to be empathetic. I want them to realize they are brilliant, and that what they bring to the table matters so much. I also want them to be aware of what is going on in the world, in this country, to see that it affects them, to engage with difficult ideas and work through them together. I also want them to know I love them, and that is why I will do what I can to help them succeed in these classes.

    I’m still thinking through the last two questions, but I’ll post this now anyway. Thanks for the great conversation friends!


    Liked by 1 person

  7. Dr. Lazarus

    Hi everyone,
    I was late to the blog reading this month, but it sure was worth making time for. My mind is overflowing with ideas, questions, reflections thanks to all the rich ideas you have all shared. Thank you so much. I am looking forward to the meet-up tomorrow!


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