The buried lede below: James Lang, author of Small Teaching will be at Union 4/18.  Read on to find out why I think you should care.



As I sit here giving my final exam for the term (so for the next hour or so I have nothing to grade) I’m thinking about how to start the first day of next term. The day before classes started in January I found myself reading an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education.  The author was advocating a different way to start a class.  LIke many of us my fist move in a class is usually to tell students what to expect — to review the syllabus.  But this author encouraged faculty to do something different to cultivate curiosity, create community, and leverage learning.  I tried it.  On the first day of class, rather than talking first about the nuts and bolts — the books we’d read and the papers they’d write (and exams they’d take) we discussed the “big idea” of an introductory sociology course — what we call the “sociological imagination” and what the pressing private troubles and public issues they wanted to address in the next ten weeks.  It was a great discussion — lively, participatory and engaging.  So much so that I barely managed to give them the syllabus by the end of the 100 minutes.  (Note to self: leave 10 minutes at the end of the discussion no matter how good it is).

It was a small change from past interations of the class.  I just started with what I usually finish the first day with. This is part of the author James Lang’s idea about how Small Teaching works.  I’ve been using techniques suggested in Small Teaching all term.  Like rearranging the first day many have have required only a little effort but have changed up the way I approached each class period.  Others have been more systematic.

Now it may have been the different start, or it may have been the other changes I implemented, or maybe it was just the mix of students, but this is probably the most active and engaged group of students I have had over many years at Union.

The author of that article — James Lang — is coming to Union April 18th. He’ll be talking at common hour, giving a workshop in the afternoon.   If you sign up for the workshop you can get a free copy of Small Teaching.  (You can also get it electronically from Schaffer Library). RSVP below!

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RSVP for the following events, facilitated by Dr. James Lang–check all that apply:
Please indicate any dietary accommodation request for the lunch and/or workshop

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