My teaching has evolved a great deal over the years. I, like many, began teaching by thinking a great teacher just gave great lectures. Because of conversations with some wonderful friends and colleagues (Susan Blum and Marc Kissel in particular), I have nearly abandoned grades and realized that passive lectures and learning are just about the worst thing you can do for students and their education. Incorporating these ideals into my classes, have made them far better for me and my students.

Ocobock deadlift
Ocobock deadlifting in class to help students analyze the biomechanical differences between two deadlift styles.

I have adopted a much more interactive classroom where students are talking as much as, if not more than, me. Also, class time is spent as much as possible doing hands on learning, problem solving, and discussion – often in groups. Developing activities takes a fair amount of thought and time; however, I (and the students) have found them to be far more effective and memorable. Using diverse techniques in the classroom not only maintains a better atmosphere, but also caters to a wide variety of learning styles.

I have also loosened up my grading an attendance philosophies. Grades are now decided through three forms of assessment for assignments and performance: my own, the student’s self-assessment, and collaborative, constructive conversations between myself and the student. The larger assignments for my classes often involve students delving deeper into course material through a variety of media. I also encourage group work. The hope is to help the student develop honest self-assessment skills, become more self-directed in their education, develop emerging technology skills, and structure the feedback in a way that better resembles performance reviews in life outside of school.

I am also much more lenient with attendance than I used to be. Though, with a more interactive class, attendance has not been an issue. This increased leniency is part of an effort to recognize difficulties students face, difficulties that can sometimes affect attendance.

I am not the person to have come up with these ideas – I am only borrowing what brilliant people before me have figured out. Here are some articles you might find interesting that talk about different teaching and learning styles:

1) Going Gradeless
Susan Blum
Marc Kissel

2) Learning & Creative Assignments