The Art of Self-Renewal
St. Thomas University.
This address was delivered at the request of the Learning and Teaching Development Committee to the group of incoming faculty on 16 August 2005, the Rotounda, Brian Mulroney Hall, St. Thomas University, Fredericton, NB.
1. The Journal of Lower Expectations
a. You cannot do everything – limit and choose selectively;
b. Students may not be the best in the world – however, they are what you have got, work with them and teach them;
c. Teach the students not the subject – and try your best to avoid the "us [faculty] and them [students]" syndrome as teaching and learning is a joint endeavour;
d. Teach specific students how to learn, so they can teach others and themselves;
e. Peer pressure and peer aid is expected at the student level– don’t underestimate its power and be aware of the vital differences between group work, shared knowledge, and plagiarism;
f. Worry less about teaching the subject matter – worry more about getting a very specific message and intention across to people.
2. The Art of Self-Renewal
a. University life is cyclical and each September is a new start -- every year you can begin again renewed, and with new intentions;
b. Each January is also a new start – it is a time when you can revise and you can re-plan the second half of your courses;
c. If you teach individuals, not the subject matter (not always easy in large classes), you will never be bored as each teaching and learning experience is a new one;
d. Recycle yourself regularly: ask yourself what you are teaching and why; study the relevance of each piece of course material to these specific students in this specific place at this specific time;
e. Be open to change; be open to ideas; be open to self-renewal;
f. Remember that self-renewal means abandoning pre-set ideas; this university is different as each university, each learning community is different; be prepared for that fact and be prepared to change because of it: remember too, it is better to change than to be changed!
3. The Art of Recycling: or how I recycled myself this summer:
a. Avila – July - August 2005 – post-Franco Spain and Spain in the European Union;
b. The European Marco Común – six levels of language teaching and learning;
c. DELE and the Marco Común -- changing the DELE from 3 levels to six;
d. Observation of in class teaching (one week) levels A 1-2 and B 1-2;
e. Two weeks workshop on changes in contemporary grammar, pragmatics, and methodology of teaching (levels C 1-2);
f. A summer break in Spain from which I return renewed and recycled -- new ideas, new pragmatics, new methodologies -- my students can only benefit.
4. Importance of LTD
a. Attend conferences, attend teaching seminars, talk to colleagues and the LTD;
b. Seek help early, rather than late;
c. Trust the experience of the people around you who have been there before and do not isolate yourself!
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