Teaching

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Teaching rocks. Teaching is frustrating. Teaching (well) is difficult work. Teaching is lonely. Teaching is important. Teaching transforms lives and the world.

This page contains a growing list of teaching resources that I find inspiring and useful in my own teaching of health policy, community health, and health humanities. Feel free to add your favorite teaching resources by either contacting me directly or adding a reply.

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Favorite books and quotes: 

“Critical thinking should be infused into the pedagogy of classes of many types, as students learn to probe, to evaluate evidence, to write papers with well-structured arguments, and to analyze the arguments presented to them in other texts.” (p. 55)

Socratic (critical, reflective) thinking “…can be taught as part of a school or college curriculum. It will not be well taught, however, unless it informs the spirit of classroom pedagogy and the school’s entire ethos. Each student must be treated as an individual whose powers of the mind are unfolding and who is expected to make an active and creative contribution to classroom discussion. This sort of pedagogy is impossible without small classes, or, at the very least, regular meetings of small sections within larger classes.” (pp. 54-55)

~Martha C. Nussbaum. Not for Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities. (Princeton NJ: Princeton UP, 2010.

“A reflective teacher needs a kind of educational technology which does more than extend her capacity to administer drill and practice. Most interesting to her is an educational technology which helps students become aware of their own intuitive understandings, to fall into cognitive confusions and explore new directions of understanding and action. ” (p. 333)

~Donald A. Schon. The Reflective Practitioner: How Professionals Think in Action. (New York, NY: Basic Books, 1983.

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“Nursing: The Politics of Caring” 20 minute film, 1977, Ilex Films. Produced, directed, and edited by Joan Finck and Timothy Sawyer in collaboration with Karen Wolf, RN. This is a fascinating film which opens with this (unfortunately, still salient) quote: “Nurses are the largest group of health professionals in this country. But as the largest group of health providers they have the very least say about healthcare policies.”

~ Valeria Fleischhacker, Director of the Nurses Coalition for Action in Politics.

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Martin Donohoe, MD shares many of his lecture PPTs and course syllabi (on health humanities, public health, social justice) on his excellent website “Public Health and Social Justice.”  

For a more nursing-specific education/social justice resource, I recommend the recently revived blog “Nurse Educator Praxis” by Peggy Chinn and her nurse educator colleagues with the NurseManifest Project. They have terrific resources for “doing” nursing and nurse education in a more deeply socially-engaged way.

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How do we know when our teaching is working? Evaluating our teaching goes past the usual course/class evaluations that students or participants of workshop sessions are asked to complete. It also goes past peer-evaluations of teaching that are typically required on some sort of ongoing basis within higher education. Both of these forms of teaching evaluations are useful, but they do not provide especially useful  or specific feedback past a certain level of teaching competency.

What I have found more useful in my own teaching is the teaching self-evaluation/teaching portfolio. These tend to be focused reflective essay sorts of affairs, with the inclusion of sample student work or other artifacts as examples. There are also specific course portfolios that typically include the following:

  • A reflective discussion of the content and goals of your course
  • A description of your plans to accomplish key objectives in student learning
  • Evidence, assessment, and evaluation of student achievement of these goals
  • A reflective narrative on the relation among the above three elements. (Source: Kathleen McKinney. Enhancing Learning Through the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning: The Challenges and Joys of Juggling. Bolton, Massachusetts: Anker Publishing Company, Inc., 2007.)

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A new (as of fall 2016) resource for reflective writing prompts especially useful for health science students, there is Allan Peterkin’s Portfolio to Go: 1,000+ Reflective Writing Prompts and Provocations for Clinical Learners (Toronto: U of Toronto Press, 2016).