At lunch today I spent a few minutes reading a recent edition of the AWM Newsletter. One article, written by Jackie Dewar, is called “Situated Studies of Teaching and Learning: The New Mainstream.” In it, she gave a great quote that I want to keep handy for later. The quote is from the keynote address at the 2013 ISSOTL Conference, given by Dr. Lee Shulman:
What advice did [Dr. Shulman] offer [Scholarship of Teaching and Learning] investigators? “Do not look for generalizations. Try to figure out what to do tomorrow because it matters.” (emphasis mine)
Whenever I think about my teaching approach and philosophy, I always stumble across the following problem: I have the tendency to think about what I want my classroom to look like, say, five or ten years down the road. I think about what I want the student experience to be and about big, radical changes I’d like to fully implement to get things there. Usually what happens at this point is I am jolted back to reality. I have so many different things pulling me in different directions that, in the end, I never feel like I’ve got momentum in the direction I’d like to go.
This is why I wanted to keep Dr. Shulman’s quote handy. Instead of thinking about big, long-term changes and projects, I really should spend my energy figuring out how to make class better tomorrow, or this week, or this semester. Hopefully small changes over time will have an additive result.