If you’re reading this blog post, you obviously value the purpose and process of education — enough to devote your career to it! However, when we’re constantly moving through our daily pattern of meetings, deadlines, paperwork, and other pressing responsibilities, we can potentially lose sight of those things that enable us to move forward in new and challenging directions — and that, in itself, can make us feel stuck, stale, or solution-less.

In McKeachie’s Teaching Tips, Marilla Svinicki and Wilbert J. McKeachie share some suggestions for identifying new methods, strategies, and opportunities that you can bring into your teaching. These suggestions may seem rather straightforward, but perhaps they’ll serve as a reminder of some practices you can adopt (or re-adopt) to keep yourself open to solutions you had not previously considered.

  • Reading. Scholarly publications offer reliable, vetted material that can provide valuable insight on teaching practices, and can also alert you to current research and trends that can inform the procedures you adopt for your course. There are numerous publications that focus on teaching and learning generally; your field likely has a journal or text that focuses on teaching in that subject area as well. And these days, many of these publications likely have newsletters or blogs that can push news and articles straight to your email account or RSS feed. Don’t know where to begin? Ask your colleagues; they likely have resources they consult on a regular basis. (And, if you find value in the information we provide at this blog, you can subscribe to our Cengage Learning eNewsletter and receive notification of each week’s articles on a regular basis.)
  • Hearing & Discussing. Teaching conferences, workshops, and your discipline’s regional & national conventions all offer a stellar setting in which you can learn about new research, observe new techniques in action, and interact with like-minded individuals. But don’t feel as though you need to travel in order to glean worthwhile inspiration — a hallway conversation with your colleagues on campus can also prove just as valuable. Don’t forget to reach out to individuals from outside your department; sometimes, that cross-germination can ignite ideas that you might not have otherwise had, had you not spoken to someone from a different field.
  • Seeing & Experiencing. Take the time to watch a colleague in action while teaching a course. How do they present material? What tools do they use? In what manner do they engage with students? You may also find some guidance or inspiration by watching instructional videos that demonstrate the use of particular methods or technologies. (pp. 334-335)

What are some strategies you take to continue developing your professional skill set? Share your ideas in the Comments below.

Content adapted from Svinicki, Marilla and McKeachie, Wilbert J. 2011. McKeachie’s Teaching Tips: Strategies, Research, and Theory for College and University Teachers. 13th ed. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth, Cengage Learning.