Each semester, I try to give myself something new to learn, pose some challenge to myself in an effort to be more effective. My focus this term is on enhancing classroom discussions in such a way so as to accomplish three goals:
- Implement a collaborative learning environment
- Promote critical thinking approaches to discussion
- Challenge students’ existing ideologies
My first goal will be accomplished by not only utilizing in-class discussions with increased frequency as I have been for the past year, but also to provide a structured environment for each class discussion. By having scholars take on specific roles in each discussion, my intent is to make the discussion more active and focused.
Providing opportunities for critical thinking has been a constant in my classroom since I began teaching. This year, I intend to provide more directed and targeted opportunities to discuss critical topics that relate to the course and provide a framework for my third goal.
Many of my students have told me in previous semesters that they have had much information reinforced throughout their lives. Rather than challenging existing ideas, they have only been taught over and over that ONE way of doing something was the ONLY way of doing something. I hope that this semester students will see variations in the world they know, recognizing differences and understandings.
Lofty goals, all of them, but I think we can make it work, IF we work together.