Tomorrow morning I will enter the classroom again, beginning my 20th year as a professional educator. I am excited! And...I have the jitters again, as usual.
This fall I'm teaching a new course. I'm adding World Regional Geography to my repertoire, and I'm really excited for this! I love geography, and I'm grateful for the opportunity to help my students expand their view of the world.
But I'm anxious about it too.
It took me a little while to figure out why I'm anxious about it, but I figured it out: I realized that this is a content course. It's been a few years now since I've taught a straight-up content course. Eight years ago, I moved from teaching middle school science and Bible classes to the computer lab, where I served at Technology Coordinator. I still taught, but the computers and media courses were much more process oriented. And five years ago, when I began teaching in higher education, as an instructor in a teacher preparation program, all of my courses have been pedagogical in nature. ("Pedagogy" might be described as the art and science of teaching. In other words...the courses I teach are about how to teach. Kinda trippy, right?)
Even the most content-oriented course that I have been teaching (Introduction to Education) is really pedagogical in nature, as it is aimed at helping potential pre-service teachers discern whether they are being called to join the profession, to help them see education through a teacher's eyes, rather than a student's.
And so this shift has me feeling a little nervous. Oh, I know...I'm definitely up for the challenge of it, and honestly, I know it's going to be a lot of fun for me.
The nagging anxiety though...I think it's that I'm a little worried that my students in this course (many of them are Education majors who have had one or more of my pedagogy-oriented courses) are going to be judging my work as a teacher. Just how effective am I at guiding them through the learning process? What kinds of decisions will I make as I unfold the curriculum? How will my assessment practices enable them to show their mastery of the material?
Instead of just stressing about this, I decided that I'm going to use this as a learning opportunity for myself. The title of this post is "Learning to Teach Again." After the past eight years of teaching process- or pedagogy-oriented courses, I have the opportunity to teach a straight-up content course again. I'm going to make the most of this by practicing what I preach to my Education majors: I'm going to actively reflect on my teaching practice, because reflection is where growth happens. I anticipate regularly blogging throughout the fall semester--on my first trip around the globe as I teach World Regional Geography--about how I'm doing. I'll be thinking out loud here on the blog, if you will. I'll tell stories of my planning, instruction, and assessment. I hope that those who read this might find it helpful, if they are teachers or teachers-in-training, but that's not really why I'm writing it. I'm writing it for me, for clarifying my own thinking, for understanding what I did and how it worked, and for my own professional development.
So here's to the new beginning, the new school year, and the new course! You're welcome along, if you want to read over my shoulder: I'm taking a journey of discovery into my own teaching practice, learning to teach again.