Learning About Learning: Professors as Role Models

There's something very special about being a student again after being in the classroom, in a school of education, no less. It gives you a lot of time to think about "good teaching" in its many forms. I'm always impressed by the professors who manage to lead student-centered learning when lectures have clearly been the dominant norm. Last night, in a lecture hall with 80-something students, the class was buzzing as we worked over slogans and campaign ideas that would promote the power parent engagement at all ages.

I've also recently noticed the way a couple of professors have brought their own narratives into their teaching. This is a technique I never really thought about consciously until it was advocated and modeled by Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot last semester. Last night I admired the way my professor Karen Mapp brought her own stories into the discussion a number of times. She didn't do it in a way to make the class about her, but as vivid illustrations of the content, in this case the power of family involvement in shaping student success.

Again today, I read a book by another professor, Linda Nathan, and was equally impressed by her candor and ownership of a past mistake. As she talked about a missed opportunity to address homophobia in her school, it was clear she felt passionately about this issue, and felt regret over her failure.

My professors' use of student-centered learning and their own narratives have provided inspiring models for my own teaching. My experiences at HGSE thus far also prompted a simple and exciting revelation in the middle of last night's class: I haven't had this much fun learning since I was in third grade. While I'm sad it will be over so quickly, I am more excited to be a part of this learning community while I can.


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