CCTE: Pedagogy I -Teaching Lit to the Disengaged

Mark Ray Schmidt, Liberty University
“Tools for Teaching Lit to Distracted and Disinterested Students”

This is a live blogging of the session.

Gen ed students who admitted to be at college to party, till they flunked out, then would go get work at sawmill.
Others are focused. Math students who don’t want to do literature because it doesn’t have much to do with their goals.

Don’t want to train to sing and dance. Engage students in meaningful way.

Simple things we can do to connect with disengaged students:
1. instructor’s persona
2. getting off to a good start
3. tools in the middle of the semester

lots of resources available
What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain, survey, visiting research, 66 instructors, philosophical

Successful Beginnings for College Teaching by Angela McGwen, pragmatic, suggestions at the beginning and in the middle and in the end, lots of material that must be sorted out

video series Teaching Company video 24 lectures for 30 minutes, 5 instructors that they interview, students, videotaped actual classroom settings
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Persona:
way dresses
vocab uses
knowledge, attitude

Perhaps we can consider how we present ourselves.
“highly effective teachers tend to reflect a strong trust in students… talk about their own intellectual journey… encourage their students to be… candid”

We need to convince them that we are knowledgeable and that we are concerned about their problems.

Have high standards, but not frustrate them.

Beginnings:
make first class meeting inviting
challenge students with the possibilities waiting for them if they are engaged
more than reading syllabus
make the first day friendly, exciting, and serious

know the students’ names
get the students to know names as well

ice breakers- asking people questions
what is your definition of success?
who are your heroes?

Not to use:
embarrassing
Successful 2 poor choices, 3 or more siblings? sets a barrier btw normal and not
how many of you have moved 3 or more times? some people might be proud of their moving and others might be embarrassed by how much they have had to move because of economics. Where I am it’s also the folks who have never moved.

Think through the kind of questions we want to ask.

Tell students how you want to be addressed.
Ask students how they want to be addressed.
try to respect them by saying the names they want to be called
pronounce the names

Syllabus
have blanks for study partner: phone number, email
get info from people in class
so that if they fall sick or get behind, they will have a name
This encourages the students to meet each other.

Later in the semester
How do you keep it positive?

Big changes are often suggested, because we are trying to grade papers.

one thing that does help is to come to class early
chat with people, be friendly

help students ask deep questions

connect literature and writing assignments to their personal concerns

have students adopt a goal they want to reach

“If we are not seeking an answer to anything, we pay little attention to random information.” -Bain
For the readings, give the essay question topics BEFORE we start the book.

draw students to significant questions
deep human needs
challenge them to investigate these questions

Lectures:
in best profs, lecture clarifies and simplifies information- focuses
lecture is part of a larger quest

Draw the students into the key information.

with a few modifications:
good teachers frequently used rhetorical questions and looked for body language, adjusted
some teachers struggle with how best to explain the topic, brings students in
pause to let students think

Puzzle, pile of pieces, put it together: you feel lost.
If someone gives you the box, shows how it looks.
Radical difference.

Audience Response:
Use themes, because it helps the students focus. Helps them carry ideas throughout.

World lit themes:
warriors
images with defining themselves- cave analogy, series of images are powerful
romance stories
creation stories
social relationships Machiavelli and Confuscious
Problem of evil
dysfunctional families

do papers within the themes
Helps them to synthesize the ideas they are looking at.

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