professornana (professornana) wrote,

Those in the know

I apparently get on lots of lists. I know that my posting this week from California has caused my Facebook feed to explode with tons of ads for real estate, stores, and tourist ideas. However, I am talking about the mail I receive from various groups. Some of it comes from organizations who sell my name (and thousands of others) on mailing lists. I can tell because of how I am addressed in the mail, the account that receives the missive, and other clues. I delete much before I even open it. It is part of being in an online community. I accept that I will receive a ton of email that is not for me personally.

In the last few months, I have somehow become subscribed to a newsletter for college faculty. After 25 years of teaching at the university and 15 more spent in middle school classrooms, I am often astonished by the content of these newsletters. A recent one focused on research and how it informs teaching.

It starts with educational research. The article says most of us do not read it nor do we understand it (and maybe we are not even supposed to understand it). Here is the quote that disturbs me: "But educational research remains largely unexplored by those who teach, partly because there aren't strong norms expecting college teachers to grow and develop their instructional knowledge, but mostly because the journal articles describing these studies and their findings aren't written for practitioners. They're written to inform the next round of research."

It seems to me that the quote suggests that teaching faculty and research faculty are two distinct entities. I can assure you that this is not the case where I teach. We are expected to teach, yes, but the expectation is that we also conduct research and contribute to the profession. Why do these need to be mutually exclusive. That's sort of like saying that I can teach writing without being a writer or reading without being a reader. I am amazed at the research done by my colleagues and how it informs my teaching daily.

I have to remind myself periodically that I work in the College of Education. Most of us have strong backgrounds in teaching, teaching in PK-12 settings as well as university classrooms. So some (much) of what I read about teaching in this and other newsletters and blogs is about teaching practices. Think of it this way: you have been teaching for almost 40 years, and the PD at the beginning of the school year is about how to plan a lesson or how to assess learning without using tests. Don't you want to roll your eyes just a little? That is how I feel sometimes when I read these newsletters about effective teaching.

This is not to say that I know it all or there is nothing left to learn. There is much I learn each and every day by reading blogs, posts, articles, books. I have "teachers" online who inspire me to know more, to do more, to want to be more. Thanks to all of you who provide me with the knowledge that helps me build my own teaching. Thanks to all of you who teach.
Tags: teaching and learning
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