Dealing with difficult situations in the classroom

This post is particularly useful for new faculty or for faculty who have experienced some struggle with class dynamics and student resistance. It aligns quite well with the tenets of critical pedagogy and showing compassion and caring for students as a way to engage them with their learning. I recommend that, along with these guidelines, you read Ira Shor’s Empowering Education (U. of Chicago Press, 1992).

Deep Down in the Classroom

The following is mostly from a handout I used while delivering workshops for a few years on the above topic at the Teaching and Learning Center at Temple University. Instructors of various levels of experience seemed to enjoy it and we had many productive discussions afterward, so I’m hoping that this might be useful for our experienced teachers too, though it is primarily aimed at our new faculty. 

First, the bad news. You will never be able to prepare yourself for every possible teaching situation, since there is literally no end to the strange things that students can (and often, will) say or do with regard to a class. Also, theory goes only thus far. However well you think you may have prepared for every eventuality, when your favorite student leans over and projectile vomits onto your shirt in the middle of class, it’s invariably worse than when you pictured…

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