Last week I had the pleasure of watching Mel teach class. In this post I will share several things I noticed her doing that may be useful for mindful incorporation into others’ classes. These simple yet effective strategies can go a long way towards building an engaged community of learners. If you would like to share something that you are doing in your class like this please let me know. We don’t always blog about it, but Mel and I are both bloggers so we thought it was a neat way to share.
In the time between students arriving and class beginning Mel plays music. I noticed that her playlist is mixed with what appears to be music from other cultures/languages. I made a note that I am going to need to ask her about how she chooses her music and why.
Later in class, I realized that it was by request. What a good idea to encourage a welcoming and inclusive environment. I wonder if there are any ground rules. There are other ways to apply this concept of allowing more student input into class decisions. What other aspects of the course delivery can we involve our students in?
Responding to Feedback
Mel summarized feedback from a previous class, which I think it important to let students know that we pay attention to it. These tickets are handed out during class and she reminds students that participation is encouraged but optional. I liked how she acknowledged what students liked and disliked about class. She was also very good at framing requests in a firm but nice way way.
Throughout the class, Mel stayed true to her promise of checking in to make sure she was not moving too fast through the slides. I am trying to think of a way to gauge how long to stay on a particular slide. Zoom has a “go faster” or “go slower” button, which is handy for online courses. It would be helpful if Google slides, PowerPoint, Mentimeter, and Nearpod had something similar. Below is a slide from one of my classes. I enable student reactions on every slide. Instead of leaving it open for students to react whenever I could ask them to react when they are done with that particular slide.
The simpler approach is to read the audience and ask if you are going to fast when you are unsure. That works well in a class of about 30 students but in larger classes I feel it will be harder to ensure all voices are heard. In my next class where I use Mentimeter I will try using student reactions to gauge speed. Maybe that is what I can tell students the cat is for since I can’t figure out what it is intended to mean.
Considering speed also reminds me of
Students seemed to appreciate the opening where student birthdays were acknowledged by request. This is another great idea. An idea I believe she got from the tickets she hands out in class. A lot of what Mel does in the opening of her class helps to create a community of engaged learners. While I am not suggesting that all of these strategies will work in all classes, it might be worth trying something like this.
A Talking Stick
In a larger class (like mine) I wonder if it would be fun to have something soft that can be thrown around the classroom. I can think of a few small stuffed animals that might work. We use a microphone in my class. At some conferences, they have a microphone in a catch box – that would be awesome!
During large group discussion about emotional intelligence, Mel talked about some relatable examples. Using the analogy of a shaken pop bottle for someone who is not dealing with their stress was a good way to paint a picture for the audience.
Many of us strive to incorporate variety into our lesson plan. I liked the variety of activity types that Mel used. As someone who uses a lot of electronic ways to share activities, I think it is good to note that if learners do not bring their own device paper handouts are needed. That, of course, requires an assessment of the class. In my classes, I can get away with
Excellent class Mel! Thanks for opening it up to me.
Innovation comes in a variety of forms. It is creativity in action, which is often inspired by exposure to diverse ways of doing things. Every time we share what we are doing we can inspire others to take one small step and change one thing about their teaching that can have a huge impact.
PS: Class content was great too. “It is not a good idea to make decisions when you are angry. It is important to know when to take a step back.” It is okay to cancel a meeting if you cannot meet a client’s needs due to emotional stressors. Avoid letting an emotional hijack control