What does effective teaching look like to you? What is happening in the classroom?
"Look at your syllabus! Who are the students reading? Do all of the authors look the same? Are they all from the same country? Are they all PhD'ed academics? Are you incorporating for inclusive curriculum to help students feel more represented in what they are learning about? Professors and faculty have to be more aware of the individuality and humanity of all students. Often times it is easy to group us together, whether it be based on our position as students within a hierarchical structure or based on previous internalized stereotypes that society projects onto individuals. Professors should take more time to get to know their students, especially the students with identities which the professors have not had much experience with in the classroom, because at Skidmore there is definitely a majority presence of the dominant narrative. I have too often heard from peers that a professor has singled them out for being the only black, brown, gay, liberal, conservative, etc., in the room and asked said individual to speak for the entire group that may make up one of their identities."
"While Skidmore preaches that it is committed to increasing diversity and fostering a welcoming environment for those within marginalized communities, it has yet to confront the reality of how members of the faculty, staff, and administration fail to interact with the student body in a way that produces such an environment. Everyone, at all levels of the college, could benefit from a richer education that’s tailored to understanding the needs of community members, specifically students of color who are often talked over in conversations, have their opinions invalidated, and must hide their authentic selves to make the white members of the community more comfortable. My hope for Skidmore is that it does what it preaches, not just in recruiting and accepting students from various backgrounds — although this is important — but also providing spaces, both mental and physical, for these students to grow into their best selves."
"I can never stress how important cultivating spaces where marginalized folk are listened to and respected is. There have been so many instances where I have felt silenced both academically and socially on campus. The spaces where I have experienced the most healing, radical truth-telling, and transformative learning were intentional in ensuring that marginalized voices are not only listened to but valued."
“Effective teaching is both challenging and supportive. It involves truly working with students as they are grappling with the course material, acknowledging that every student learns differently and at a different pace. Effective teaching involves building relationships with students, even those that are quieter and it does not take advantage of power dynamics to instill fear or pressure in the student. Effective teaching makes the student want to learn and come to class.”
“When the teacher is engaging, knows what they are talking about, listens and respects each student, makes sure everyone’s voice is heard, encourages safe debating and multiple viewpoints, and has some sense of humor or is passionate and excited about the information they are giving us.”
“Effective teaching is dynamic. It involves the instructor moving about the classroom, the students moving about the classroom, and having students be physically engaged with the material. Other ways that students can be physically engaged include group activities, games that enforce material, and having the students 'teach' the material back to each other.”
“Effective teaching is when everyone learns in a way that works best for them. Students are given the benefit of the doubt and allowed to make mistakes without being harshly penalized, whether that be through bad grades, punishment, or otherwise. An environment of respect is cultivated between teacher and student.”
“Non-banking education. Discussions (but not forced) are frequent; the professor poses questions while also accepts multiple perspectives and opinions. Being understanding and flexible of people’s mental health, limitations, and prior experience. Keeping students engaged and not talking at them.”
“To me effective teaching is when a professor gives students the same amount of respect that they ask for from their students. Effective teaching excites students about a subject and offers opportunity to grow and utilize and individual’s strengths. A balance between discussions and lectures is important.”
“Effective teaching is both challenging and supportive. It involves truly working with students as they are grappling with the course material, acknowledging that every student learns differently and at a different pace. Effective teaching involves building relationships with students, even those that quieter and it does not take advantage of power dynamics to instill fear or pressure in the student. Effective teaching makes the student want to learn and come to class.”
“Teaching is effective when the professor engages the students. I hate when they ask a question and they say 'nope!' or 'incorrect.' There is a better way to go about telling a student they are wrong. It’s just very discouraging to me. The professors I have loved so far take me on a journey instead of handing me a map and saying, ‘Good luck!’ ”
“I think effective teaching is teaching that realizes that their classroom doesn’t exist in a vacuum, but a constantly evolving world. If something is heard in the news that affects the topic, it should be acknowledged. I think when the teacher does this it shows students that changes in the world should be observed not just in a definition sense, but in a relational sense. If a student brings up something important to them, maybe try to acknowledge it too … a bit.”
“A signifier of effective teaching is when all of the students within a class feel comfortable to engage in class discussions, communicate their ideas, and express whatever inquiries they might have. The teacher, in this setting, allows for a productive balance of both, their own, and student voices and incorporates their own expertise in order to provide an engaging and knowledgeable environment.”
“Effective teaching involves both the students and the professor in an interactive learning environment. With the small Skidmore class sizes, this can often be reflected in classroom discussions where everyone feels comfortable learning and contributing.”
“To me, effective teaching is getting students engaged. In most classes, I come in and sit down to be lectured. There’s the occasional questions asked to the class but usually only one or two people know the answer or no one knows it. I think when it’s the same few people answering the questions, the professor should acknowledge that something is wrong within the class and get feedback from the students regarding how to change that. I find my best and favorite classes use a lot of student feedback and actually apply what students have to say during class.”
“When a professor can encourage meaningful discussions focused on student input, and moderate and spur inspiration if needed. Encouraging everyone to participate but not forcing anyone to. Switching up activities and learning formats, and always checking in on students. Also, showing passion about what they are teaching.”
“Effective teaching is incorporating multipartiality in the classroom and making sure all voices are heard, especially those who have been historically marginalized.”
“Effective teaching means guiding students toward challenging dominate narratives about reality and our world. An effective teacher does not dominate, but is still very present.”
“To me, effective teaching in the classroom is based off energy; the energy professors put into educating students and educating themselves through the minds of students is an invaluable reward.”
What do you want faculty to know about teaching in an inclusive classroom? What advice do you have?
“Inclusive classrooms are helpful for all students involved. Being in a classroom of diverse individuals is beneficial because material can be presented in a multitude of ways. Use classroom diversity to your advantage. For example, group students of differing abilities together and have them learn from one another.”
“An inclusive classroom is more than just offering different perspectives and teaching a wide range of ideas. It’s also about learning to accept failure, and that not everyone learns in the same way or at the same pace. For example, students who don’t turn in homework are generally seen as lazy, but that’s far from the truth. No one wants to fail or disappoint. Behavior doesn’t exist in a vacuum—there’s always a reason for it. If a student isn’t completing assignments, or participating in class, there’s a reason. Maybe they have trouble paying attention, or grasping the material. Even if they’re choosing to self-sabotage, there’s still a reason why—maybe they have low self-esteem, or something else they’re working through. If you look at a student’s performance and only see laziness, you’re missing key details. There is always an explanation for why they might not be thriving. There are always barriers to success. Just because you can’t see them, or don’t view them as legitimate, doesn’t mean they’re not there.”
“Look at your syllabus! Who are the students reading? Do all of the authors look the same? Are they all from the same country? Are they all PhD'ed academics? Are you incorporating for inclusive curriculum to help students feel more represented in what they are learning about? Professors and faculty have to be more aware of the individuality and humanity of all students. Often times it is easy to group us together, whether it be based on our position as students within a hierarchical structure or based on previous internalized stereotypes that society projects onto individuals. Professors should take more time to get to know their students, especially the students with identities which the professors have not had much experience with in the classroom, because at Skidmore there is definitely a majority presence of the dominant narrative. I have too often heard from peers that a professor has singled them out for being the only black, brown, gay, liberal, conservative, etc., in the room and asked said individual to speak for the entire group that may make up one of their identities.”
“Be flexible about assignment due dates if a student is going through something. Reach out if they don’t attend class or miss an assignment. These are some of the first academic signs that something is not okay with the student. Offer support instead of punishment.”
“I’d like the faculty to know the importance of not tokenizing their students. I think it often goes unnoticed by professors because the intent is to find out more information about a certain group, but this all too often leads to tokenization and students feeling uncomfortable in a learning space.”
“To teach in an inclusive classroom it is important to balance all voices. If students of color aren’t speaking up, try to encourage them and hold off on calling on white students. If a student says something problematic or offensive about race, sexuality, or gender don’t just move on, but address and correct it. It is important to know how to do this in a way that a student who was genuinely informed isn’t afraid to speak up in the future.”
“In order to teach in an inclusive classroom, faculty must be aware of the diversity which exists—not only in identities (age, race, ethnicity, sex, etc.) but also mentalities. Faculty must be more aware of the implications of their words, and the power of words which can either encourage student participation or hinder it. Although to feel challenged in a classroom is to some degree necessary, if a student does not feel comfortable in a classroom setting this can impede their ability to learn.”
“An inclusive classroom is one where the voice and experiences of students is appreciated, acknowledged, and not tokenized. Don’t try to ask for a person of color’s opinion only in relation to something you think may directly relate to their culture. Make sure their views are represented on 'neutral' topics too, because the main point of view is probably filtered through a white person’s lens. Also, maybe try to include readings from people of color on your topics. White people aren’t the only ones who have written stuff.”
“Inclusivity is the classroom involves more than learning students’ names and calling on them for class discussions. The inclusive classroom provides a safe space for all to engage and learn. To have an inclusive environment, the professor cannot choose favorites and must help to see and bring out the potential in all students. Certainly it is wonderful to promote opportunities for students, what ultimately drives them is support and encouragement.”
“Respect everyone. As a professor you hold the most power in the classroom, and it is up to you to foster a safe and happy learning space.”
“I want faculty to know that history is present and is carried with the U.S. at all times. To be inclusive we must acknowledge the historical and present legacy and impact of events, systems, and culture. It is our obligation to understand the social implications of time on our students and faculty.”
“They should know that it’s part of their responsibility to make it inclusive. Faculty should ask for preferred pronouns. They should remember to never ask a student to speak on behalf of an entire identity group. They should also make sure they monitor the dominant voices in the room and control them to make space for others.”
“An inclusive teacher asks students to bring their experiences into the classroom but does not force student to speak or share on behalf of entire groups or social identities.”