design, deliver, learn, improve, repeat.
The following student observations are excerpted from the anonymous surveys completed by students at the end of the term. I have also included my reflections on these observations and how I will apply these observations in future teaching situations.
Dr. Wehler is an excellent teacher who is very invested in the success of her students.
You really cared about each student and took the time to help each of us understand the material.
You really cared about each student and took the time to help each of understand the material.
The instructor always had an open door for school work and personal issues as well.
You were always available when someone needed to talk.
Sharing a passion
The best part of this course was being able to see how genuinely infatuated Doctor Wehler is with the subject. In every presentation you can see just how much the course materials means to her, and her enthusiasm with teaching is contagious.
Makes class interesting and is very enthusiastic!
The professor made it fun learning about different things in the world.
I really enjoyed the lesson as well as the field cases. Discussions were always enjoyable as well.
The best part of the course is that it make[s] you think beyond the material.
I feel I was able to fully understand the course content and developed into a more rounded individual.
The best thing about this course was learning about different types of people and why they believe in what they do. It gives you an insight on maybe how to talk to certain people and keeps your mind open to all different aspects of life.
Observation by a peer
I usually invite a peer to observe my class whenever I’m teaching a new course. However, in this case, I was teaching the same course, but tackling it through a new lens. Previously, I taught film classes on genre studies (such as horror and documentary) and on thematic studies (such as race and radicalism). When preparing for this course, I decided to focus on my recent research and scholarship in the area of superheroes in film and television. Because of the different topic and approach, I felt that this was an excellent opportunity to have a peer observe my class.
I learned early in the term that I had several superhero aficionados in the class who were able to sustain high-level conversation about the topic, which could sometimes stifle less-experienced students. To ensure that all students had a voice in the conversation, I knew I had to carefully frame the course discussion, provide additional resources on the topic, and provide a “sneak peek” before the next class.
For the observation, I was very interested in receiving feedback about how the students were engaging with the class and the topic. Obviously, I was close to the topic having just completed substantive research projects, and I did not want to lose students in the conversation. As such, I selected a peer observer who I knew prioritized the classroom environment and who was an excellent reflective educator.
After reviewing my reviewer's comments, I was reaffirmed that my decision to carefully frame and supplement the course topics was working. According to the reviewer, students were engaged in the presentation, discussion, and group work. Students of all experience-levels felt comfortable contributing to the conversation, and that they were able to do so with confidence. The careful framing of the conversation helped to level the variety of experiences, and the small groups ensured that students were equally heard and supported. These comments reinforced my own reflections about the class and its progress towards our learning outcomes.
My reviewer did note that I had misheard a student on two occasions, which is something I will need to continue to improve. Students need to be both heard and understood if they are going to be successful. In the future, I will need to work on asking follow-up questions to ensure that I am clear on their contributions.
Overall, this peer observation confirmed my approach to the materials by giving me a clear understanding of the classroom environment.