Teaching and Learning Tip #32: Creating Risky Learning - For Yourself and Your Students

May 1, 2018

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Tip #32: Creating Risky Learning – For Yourself and Your Students

Contributed by Julie Alderson, Center for Teaching and Learning

As we race (limp?) to the end of the semester we often work hard to help our students reflect on their learning over the course of their time with us (see last week’s tip – Making the Last Day Meaningful).  It’s also important to consider what WE have learned, particularly as we’ve tried new teaching strategies, engaged in new conversations in the classroom, or introduced new course material.  The reality is that sometimes the new things we try don’t go well. Taking risks with your teaching means going out on a new and untested limb. Unfortunately, sometimes that limb breaks and you fall crashing down.  Sometimes right in front of your students.

These risks, and the lessons we learn from them, can bring some of the most exciting and engaging moments in the classroom.  And when you take risks, you model for your students that risk-taking is a good thing! It’s particularly powerful when you deploy something new with them through a spirit of radical transparency – “I’m trying something I’ve never done before here.  I have no idea how this will go! Let’s see!” – followed by a reflection with them about what worked, and what didn’t. Showing our humility, vulnerability and humanity helps build relationships with our students, and makes clear that we ourselves are lifelong learners.  We show them that grappling with learning and making mistakes is part of the educational journey, both for them and for you.

If you want to reach out to the CTL over the summer for additional resources to supp ortany new and exciting things you’d like to try next year, we’d love to hear from you!