Two Questions for Starting the New Academic Year

Reinert Center typeset_icon_2014_solid_082214Debie Lohe, Director, Reinert Center

Last week, new faculty and students officially joined our community, and just like that, the campus is back to life. Personally, I love the start of a new term, a new academic year; possibility is a powerful thing, and fresh starts can be motivating.

If you’re new to teaching, or new to SLU, I invite you to learn more about what the Reinert Center does [LINK to Programs and Services] and how you can get involved [LINK to Events]. We’re eager to help you discover the right teaching choices for you.

If you’ve been teaching for a while (or longer than a while) and want to explore ways to reinvigorate your teaching, you might be interested talking with someone about new pedagogies [LINK to Consultations] or in applying for an Innovative Teaching Fellowship [LINK] to teach in our Learning Studio [LINK] next year. (The next Call for Applications will be issued in early September.)

If you’re interested in designing and teaching courses in inclusive ways, you may be interested in our theme for this year – Inclusive Teaching. Earlier this month, I shared a few initial thoughts about our approach to the theme [LINK]. All year, we’ll offer programming and publish web-based resources that focus on practical strategies for creating inclusive and equitable learning environments.

No matter what your level of teaching experience, I invite you to reflect on two key questions as you begin the new term:

What matters most to you this semester?

You can’t do everything this semester. What are the highest-value goals you have for your teaching? Your interactions with students? What actions will help you to keep those at the forefront of your work with students?

When will you reflect?

Seriously … when? Often, we intend to reflect critically on our teaching, but the time pressures of class prep and grading and meetings and scholarly work can push those good intentions to winter break. Take a moment now to schedule half-hour check-ins with yourself every few weeks. Consider what’s working for you and what’s not; identify small, concrete steps you can take to enhance your experience as a teacher this semester.

Write down your responses to both of these questions. Keep them in view as the term unfolds. Doing so will help you stay in touch with the good intentions you have here at the beginning, when possibilities still feel endless and realities aren’t yet preventing you from achieving them all.

Best wishes for reflective new term. We look forward to seeing you at a Reinert Center event soon.

2 Responses to “Two Questions for Starting the New Academic Year”

  1. Thanks for your post Debie. My goal is to take 10 minutes and reflect after every lecture when I get back to my office. It is so important for me to do it immediately or else it does not happen. I also have a tendency to do way too much in semester. I really like your focusing questions, I needed that.

  2. Glad the questions were useful! I love the 10-minutes-post-class reflection. If you’re interested in some higher-tech ways to capture those thoughts, you might find this old blog post useful: http://www.slu.edu/blogs/cttl/2015/02/11/tools-of-the-reflective-trade/. One of our former colleagues shared some different ways he reflects on teaching immediately after class, and they might be useful to others, as well.