What makes your teaching shine?

This is the 10th post in Over a cuppa, a series which offers prompts to reflect on learning and teaching during the time it takes to make and drink a cuppa. I have set myself the challenge of keeping these posts to 300 or so words. Cross-posted from Teche, original artwork by Fidel Fernando.

I have an earworm, a line of a song stuck in my head. Thanks to my son’s listening habits, it’s the first line of Tones and I’s Dance Monkey: ‘They say, oh my god, I see the way you shine’.

It’s not a shiny time right now, but having the line on continuous loop prompted this reflection. At this stage of semester, you and your students are probably feeling tired. This interesting post on teaching tiredness was written pre-pandemic:

With multiple courses to teach, we do get tired, but I think we regularly confuse physical fatigue with the more serious emotional tiredness that comes from a heavy workload of always being there, always giving, and always juggling multiple balls in the air…

This post on Zoom fatigue offers a contemporary update. The author describes her teaching:

Over my decades of teaching, I’ve learned to read a room pretty well: the harmonized posture, the breaths, the laughter, the eye gaze. My classes are successful when everyone is so excited that they want to speak over each other out of sheer exuberance. When people sit up straight and say, “Wait! Do you mean …?” because they have a brand-new way to understand the world…

It can be difficult to push though the tiredness. The advice offered can be helpful but is likely familiar: change, refresh, pause, collaborate, celebrate. It is important to note that this reflection is not a response to the emotional, physical and mental exhaustion of prolonged stress. But if you feel a bit flat at this stage of the semester, consider what makes you shine in your teaching. What do you enjoy?

I am inspired by Maggie MacLure’s thoughts on wonder in research:

I have called this intensity that seems to emanate from data, a ‘glow’. But here, I want to think of it again as wonder … Wonder is not necessarily a safe, comforting, or uncomplicatedly positive affect. It shades into curiosity, horror, fascination, disgust, and monstrosity.

What animates, surprises, delights, refreshes you and your students?

Here’s one suggestion for waking up teachers are students alike: take your teaching into the wild (weather permitting) or bring the outdoors into the classroom.

Thank you to Professor Ronika Power for talking through the ideas in this post and sharing her fabulous teaching practice.

MacLure M. (2013). The Wonder of Data. Cultural Studies ↔ Critical Methodologies 13(4): 228-232. doi:10.1177/1532708613487863