EDTP 201: The Teaching Profession
As a “teacher of future teachers,” Bonnie Reuling is always challenging herself to improve her teaching by modeling best practices and seeking new ways to improve her assignments and courses. For her project with this year’s Part-Time Faculty Learning Community, she re-tooled an existing assignment which has been utilized in the Education school for several semesters. Reuling describes the assignment, called Building Bridges, as one where students are asked “to select one student who is struggling with the curriculum and then to suggest strategies that will enhance the student’s performance.” The additional element introduced by Reuling was a grading rubric. Reuling observes: “We have never used a rubric for this assignment making it difficult to grade.” (Links to her assignment and rubric are found below.)
Reuling deployed several strategies to enhance this assignment. For example, she had initial discussions with her students to determine their prior knowledge and its limitations. She assigned essays to deepen their thinking about teaching. She invited her students to discuss techniques their mentor teachers had used when their students were struggling with curriculum. These discussions first occurred in small groups of 4-5 students, and then expanded to include the larger class. Bonnie’s students reported that this preparation enabled them to put their ideas into practice with their struggling students.
The use of the rubric, which was given to the students in advance of their assignment, aided student understanding of the importance of the assignment, as well as the specific criteria by which they would be measured. From Reuling’s perspective, the rubric was a success: “Grading this assignment was easier, quicker and more efficient for me as an instructor. I had the evidence needed to complete a grade and give the student feedback using the rubric, letting them know if they were successful or not.”
Reuling also adds a thought about one reason she loves teaching. “I like the thought that my ideas will help students grow and learn. Those ideas spread out from me like rings on the water when I toss out an idea to my students. My current students use the idea and then pass it on to their students.” That would certainly seem to be the definition of successful teaching.