Here are some takeaways I got from the session:
- Normally at the beginning of a course, I ask students what their expectations are. This is good; it gives them ownership over the contents, and ensures that everyone's taking the right course for them. However, there's a problem: most of the time, my students don't know to expect, so they say nothing. Possible solution: ask where they see themselves ten years from now if they continue in this field. What skills do they expect they'll need and use? This lets me deal with student expectations about the course and the industry at the same time, and a greater number of them will have something to say in response since they all probably have some image in their head (no matter how inaccurate) about What It's Like Out There.
- Another problem I run into occasionally is a student who is having issues outside of class and it makes their coursework suffer, but I don't hear about it until after the fact. Solution: address this on the first day of class as a matter of policy. I particularly liked how one professor put it: "my job (as a teacher) is to help my students succeed, and I can't do that if I'm not kept in the loop."
- Lastly, part of the process of mastery and learning is feeling really stupid at times, and this is something that I don't think occurs to a lot of students (especially if they've excelled at all of their classes before). Really, the more you know in a field, the more you realize that you don't know. Once you master the basics, that's when it starts occurring to you that there are all these unsolved problems, and all these new ways to put things together. As a result, the smarter you get, the more ignorant you feel. Corollary: if you feel like a total moron, it probably means you're learning something!