Lauren S. Morimoto


Tools for Teaching Workshops

Along with the content and discussion facilitated by Matthew Paolucci Callahan, I appreciatedhow Matthew and Ann Steckel created an environment that allowed us faculty to form a community. The workshop sessions allowed me to step out of my silo and connect with colleagues from other disciplines, some are contending with the same teaching challenges and some are dealing with situations that I have yet to encounter. We all seemed to feel comfortable sharing our experiences and asking for advice or guidance on negotiating different aspects of teaching. Lastly, the workshop atmosphere created was undergirded by trust and respect, which allowed us to speak freely and raise oppositional points of view.

One of the key tools I picked up from the session on classroom management is “Curiosity and concern.” What I appreciate about “curiosity and concern” approach is that it helps me avoid making assumptions about a student’s behavior. For instance, when a student says, “Well, I don’t need this class (e.g. Sociology of Sport) because I’m going to med school,” my initial response is to either label the student an arrogant little ___ or to blast her publicly (and humorously) in some way. “Curiosity and concern” shapes my response differently. Instead of responding negatively, I can now think of several different responses such as “What do you think this class covers? How might developing the knowledge, skill and content in this course assist you in getting into and/or surviving med school?” The “concern” piece provides an opening to share key information, e.g. I can voice concern that the student has not received the most up-to-date information about the MCATs, which now include a section on sociology and psychology, that may help the student meet his or her goals. Similarly, by sharing what I know about the MCAT, I may encourage or foster learning – and help the student prepare more effectively and optimize performance.

For the past year, I have contemplated revamping my two courses in the kinesiology core. Participating in the Tools of Teaching Workshops solidified my commitment to re-envisioning and re-constructing at least one course over the summer. The first critical change, I am planning to grade differently (and hopefully, more effectively – a subject which I would love to see a follow up series on) by instituting more frequent, lower-stakes assessments as opposed to the usual two midterms and final exam. In addition, I intend to take advantage of Matthew’s offer of assistance over the summer to develop a better rubric for evaluating the large, original research project (that typically runs between 25-35 pages per student) quickly, but meaningfully. I am considering the possibility of allowing rough drafts provided I can pick up the tools to properly assess and provide feedback on the projects at each step of their development.

I would definitely recommend offering this workshop series again. The lively conversations with colleagues and the range of questions raised demonstrate faculty members’ desire and need for professional development focused on teaching. Each two-hour session felt short, which is a tribute to Matthew’s ability to instruct and engage. In fact, I would recommend extending each session by an hour. While I realize that his may make it difficult for some faculty to commit to the workshops, it felt like there was more we wanted to examine and the extra time would allow for more in-depth conversation and work around issues of classroom management and diversity.