Tips & Insights for Professors and Curious Teachers
From time to time, I reflect on my law and teaching career, looking to capture my sentiment in the moment in one word. Recently, I watched an interview with Henry Winkler as he discussed the ups and many downs of his acting career after the hit television show, Happy Days, ended in 1984. The word that stuck with me was that he was grateful for everything. Grateful. Work hard and be grateful. During the ups and the downs. Appreciate current and former colleagues, mentors and mentees, and all of the people you’ve met along the way.
I am grateful to the professors interviewed for my
recent book. Unknown to them, they elevated my game as I edited their chapters.
When students ask me about time management techniques, I tell them to be
strategic and efficient with their time. To learn how and when to say no. But
if I listened to my own advice, I likely would’ve passed on a great
opportunity. As I was re-reading about the amazing work these Master Teachers
are doing with their students, I was inspired to say yes.
This led me to take on the task of recruiting and
coaching a team of three students to compete in a three-day international
mediation competition hosted by a neighboring university. These students
weren’t in my Consumer Law class, had zero exposure to mediation training, and
went up against many students who were Conflict Resolution majors. They had
five weeks to learn how to mediate a dispute and switch roles from mediator to
advocate to client in mock mediation sessions. The same amount of training time
that Rocky had to fight world champion, Apollo Creed. The students worked hard
and performed admirably. They demonstrated skill, patience, empathy, and poise
under pressure, and articulated reflective insights. (And if I’m permitted to
beam proudly here, they reached the semi-finals with a collective mediator
score ranking 5th in a 22-team field.)
Author Dan Millman wrote: “The journey is what brings us happiness, not the destination.” I am grateful to the students who sacrificed their time during this adventure to learn and experience something new. In turn, these types of interactions facilitate my personal growth. All of which motivates me to seek out my next quest.
Please take a moment in your busy lives to express gratitude to the people you work with. Continuously. Even if (Especially if?) your workday sometimes feels like the movie, Groundhog Day.
Excerpt, Innovative College Teaching (2024)
#1 Amazon BEST SELLER and #1 NEW RELEASE in Teacher & Student Mentoring (Jan./Feb. 2024)
c 2024 Perry Binder
Me: Make your classes interactive with activities solving real world problems. Encourage students to be confident in their fact-based opinions and continually challenge or “teach the teacher.” For example, in my Internet Law class, students know more than me about emerging technologies such as AI, blockchain, crypto, and NFTs. While I can teach the legal limits of technology, it is the energy of students which carries this class, as they educate me. This shift in roles grew my skills as a college professor. Ultimately, I want my classes to not only be student-centered but life-centered as well.
E. Meyers: “Unlearn. We need to deconstruct what
we know and consider how we learned this and who it favors. Unlearning is one
way to reduce bias and, in turn, harm. Unlearning can lead to allyship (and
more) which is beneficial to our students (and us) in ‘becoming’ educators.
Aren’t we always growing and becoming?”
Leila Lawlor: “If you have chosen to
teach, you have chosen to place students at the center of your professional
universe. Tell them. They will appreciate knowing how much you want them to
thrive, to enjoy your teaching, and to meet their academic and professional
goals. As you get to know your students, they will surely appreciate your
interest in their lives and goals.”
Jody Blanke: “I like to teach by example. I think it is much easier to understand an idea if you can see it in action, rather than merely in the abstract. Quite often you can discuss the nuances of the topic by simply varying the facts of the example.”
Some of my favorite books are in this category, including Tuesdays with Morrie and The Happy Teacher Habits.
Fernando Doria:“I am enthusiastic about expanding my efforts
to create more cross-border interdisciplinary learning experiences. Such
experiences not only prompt participants to critically analyze novel ideas and
challenges but also encourage them to delve into the intricate intersections of
various fields of study while developing their global mindset.”
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