Innovation in Teaching

Professor Goals

I stated in my blog post earlier this week, that I will be focusing on the following question for the PME 811 course:

How do we keep our teaching innovative and creative? How do stay relevant and create programming that follows curriculum, teaches students the necessary skills and engages them with the material?

Take a look at my featured image here. I feel like we’ve all had that moment. That moment of pure exhaustion or boredom – depending on how you look at it. I remember being tired studying for exams or crunching out a essay I left until the last minute. However, I can also remember, on a few occasions, that I was bored out of my mind in class. Whether it was the professor being so academic that I could understand him, or I just felt like the material didn’t resonate with me.

From those various experiences I began to formulate what I didn’t want to become as an instructor, but I have also had the opportunity to be inspired by the professors that really cared and tried to relate to us. I’m not saying that everything we do as instructors can be “fun” all the time, but in the art of innovation, I believe we can achieve a balance between necessary material and fun.

The profs who inspired me and how they did it

I have had a vast range of professors over the years – Professors that had multiple PhDs and publications to instructors that had more “real world” experience and (maybe) a Masters degree. The teachers who inspired me most were the ones who had the education to back them, but also the real world experience that they could draw upon for innovative lessons.

Recently, I was in a class where we had a heavy case study focus. We had a lot of group work and much of what we did simulated real life. The professor was brilliant – He had the education to back him, but the humour and real world experience that we could relate to. His lessons change yearly based on new experiences and student inspiration, and he has more passion that I’ve ever seen before.

As instructors, how do we maintain this energy? How do we stay innovative without bogging ourselves down in research too? I think it’s a really interesting balance that I will need to find. Does anyone have a similar story about a professor or teacher that truly inspired them?

2 thoughts on “Professor Goals

  1. Hi Erica,

    Yes, I certainly do! One of my high school teachers was incredibly inspiring. Mr. Boin taught me science and phys-ed. I remember nobody wanted to sit in the front row because he would literally froth at the mouth and project tiny bubbles of “mist” onto any unsuspecting poor soul. He wasn’t angry, no, he would just get so excited about what he was teaching us that he would do this! He would also get up on the large lab desk at the front and stand over everyone while spraying and saying. I never felt so excited about the chemical processes of making concrete and how it dries. Later, he led me on my first ever multi-day canoe trip and backpacking trip. Those events changed my life and set me down a path that led me to where I am today. As a matter of fact, we have maintained our relationship all these years (he taught me from 1989-1991) and I am now his son’s Godfather!

    1. Stories like these are absolutely the best! Thank you for sharing Ryan. While I had a few lackluster teachers over the years, I feel like we need to enter the profession with all the heart in the world – as we never know where our teaching journey can take us. 🙂

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