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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Why Don’t You Just Speak Up? Engagement & Discussion Ideas from an Introverted Teacher

As we immerse ourselves in finalizing our Fall 2013 syllabi and lesson plans, consider some of the strategies discussed in this post. Often we need specific tools and strategies to generate rich and critical discussion, and here you will find some tried and true suggestions. Please share your own strategies in the comments section!


by Kristin L. Fitzsimmons (MFA, UMinn)


When undergraduates enter university classrooms, they’re coming from various educational backgrounds and experiences. They will all have different expectations of what or who an instructor should be, just as you might have a certain idea of the ideal student. That idealized student probably speaks up when we ask a question, offers insightful comments, and prepares for class at home. Students might expect that as ideal instructors we always have the answers and never feel awkward or unconfident. For most of us, neither ideal is something we experience on a daily basis. When thinking about classroom engagement – participation and discussion, it’s hard to balance how much a teacher leans on her students and how much they lean on her. Too much weight on either side can throw everything off balance, especially when your class, like most classes, is a mixture of talkers and…

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Before Reading or Watching Videos, Students Should Experiment First

See on Scoop.itTeaching and Learning Articles

A new Stanford study shows that students learn better when first exploring an unfamiliar idea or concept on their own, rather than reading a text or watching a video first.

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Facing Plagiarism with a Positive Attitude?

Deep Down in the Classroom

I don’t know about all of you, but I have found some plagiarism over the past week or so.  Last night, particularly, an essay came back from Safe Assign with a 70% rate of plagiarism. It was a documented essay that was two pages short of the minimum length requirement with no citations or sources.  The essay was almost completely taken from two blog posts.  Disheartening doesn’t begin to describe it and in about an hour, I will meet with this student to discuss this absolute blatant abuse of the internet as information provider.
I know that this is a discussion that we have frequently and I appreciate that many of you are probably tired of discussing it.  However, in my absolute desperation, I have been reading articles online that address the issue, and I found one in The Chronicle of Higher Education that, although from September of 2012…

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Revisiting comic creation

Teachers! Just found this neat tool called Pixton (described here in this blog post from Nspired2), where students can create their own comic to illustrate and demonstrate their understanding of course concepts. Free trials and very inexpensive teacher access. If you decide to experiment with it, please let me know! We’d like to offer some support and perhaps share your experience with other faculty.

Twitteracy: Tweeting as a New Literacy Practice

Note: Link opens as a PDF.

This new research article explores how Twitter, and other social media technologies, contributes to new and traditional literacy practices. It offers models of using Twitter as a learning tool, explores how Twitter is used by students and peers, and offers new suggestions for continuing research.

Technology and gritty learning

This blog post by Nspired2 (University of Notre Dame Kaneb Center) looks at how “gritty” students need to be to foster deep engaged learning. It summarizes a recent article by the Hechinger Report, “Can technology teach grit” which explores adaptive learning strategies. Read more.

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