To The Faculty Lounge administrators – thank you for inviting me into The Lounge this month as a guest blogger. To The Faculty Lounge community – thank you for the very warm reception. I’ve received comments posted to the blog and I’ve received emails at my office address. I appreciate hearing from you all. In my last post, I want to stay true to my student-centered focus.
Hopefully, I’ve made clear that, in large part, I sought my PhD in education because I’d experienced, observed, and heard about too many law professors who either lacked the skill and/or desire to teach their students. As I highlighted over the course of the month, there is an abundance of research on teaching that I believe remains unknown to most law professors. Certain researchers are considered especially prolific leaders within the field and I try to follow them more closely. One is Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings. Recently, I listened to yet another of her many, many speeches. Her words reminded me to be more intentional about speaking to my students in their dialect too. An example of my dialect in teaching might be lectures and PowerPoints. Their dialect might be blogs and Tweets. I am working hard to resist what is comfortable. By stretching toward what is almost a foreign language for me, the research referenced by Dr. Ladson-Billings suggests that I will better serve my students.
In the next couple of weeks, we will meet the mid-point in the fall semester. To further serve my students, I will provide each with a mid-term evaluation. Well before FCQs, I want to know what’s working (and what’s not) for this particular group. I’ve been doing this for years, but was especially excited to see that some students have taken this idea to another level. While I will definitely read that book, I never promise my students that I can or will incorporate every single one of their suggestions. That would be catering to the students. But, I do tell them that I will read and consider every single one of their comments and suggestions. That, I believe, is caring.
Throughout September, I hope that I have provided some food for thought. Given my particular line of research and analysis, I hope that my comments will lead to a better experience for your students. Whether you agree or disagree with the research I’ve cited, I hope that you will simply take a moment to consider: Do you teach in a way that is convenient (or best) for you OR is it best for your students? Are you speaking in a way that’s natural for you to speak OR in a way that’s natural for your students to hear? In an ideal world, the answer would be both, but, my observation is that it’s usually the former.
Thank you for allowing me into your space. I’ve tried my best to positively contribute to a great group. It’s been my honor, it’s been my pleasure, and, hopefully, it’s been worth your time.