Wednesday, November 13, 2019

A New Goal in My Pedagogy-Stress Reduction

Throughout my many years teaching at Fordham, I was probably not best known for my kindness. Yes, I gave my students lots of personal attention and and made sure they had an opportunity to express themselves, but I also pushed them HARD, asking them to write long research papers that had to be handed in ON TIME. No one took my courses without doing a lot of reading and writing. My students not only learned things they didn't know before, they came out of the experience stronger, able to stand on their own knowing they had survived a harsh test
However, in the last few years, I have changed my pedagogy to reduce stress on my students.. I still demand a lot of reading and writing in my courses, but I have reduced the work load slightly, only give take home exams and untimed tests, and are more sympathetic when students ask for extensions. I also FEED my students whenever possible, making food as well as music part of the experience of taking a course with me
Why am I doing this? Because my students today are under severe stress and I don't want to add to it if I can help it
Look what they are up against
1. Many are graduating with huge student debt
2. They have a madman as President of the United States
3. There is a resurgence of racism, xenophobia and homophobia that threatens their safety and well being
4. The specter of Climate Emergency hangs over their heads, threatening their lives and futures
I have no power to do anything about profound historic forces deforming their lives. But I can nurture and comfort them while I teach them, making classes enjoyable, giving them time to do their work, and feeding them whenever possible, and playing music in class to bring joy to the experience as well as illustrate important themes
If my classes fill up because of this, all the better. I want my students to remember that in a harsh, unforgiving world, someone was kind, someone cared.


Sue VanHattum said...

Blessed be.

(I teach math. I give retakes, where showing me that they have done more work to learn gets them the opportunity to do a new version of the test. I also have snacks available, from Trader Joe's.)

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