by Suzanne Ehrlich, EdD
Assistant Professor, University of North Florida
Click on the toggle below to read Suzanne’s written reflection.
An English Reflection
Pedagogical strategies are abundant in today’s world, and knowing which are best applied becomes the greater challenge. When participating in the think tank and reviewing the text Making It Stick, I found both new ideas and my existing ones reinforced. The process of reflection on my own teaching was powerful. From this reflection, I was able to consider the ways in which I have taught and what I plan to do to create change in thinking.
From how we learn to how we create meaningful, long-term experiences, this text challenges norms even the most experienced educator might still practice. The think tank and book offered an opportunity to reconsider my instructional approaches from a wide-range approach, to considering how I can create more extensive projects that would have a lasting impact on my students’ learning and knowledge.
There are a number of ways in which I have considered making changes in my teaching as a result, including practice with texts. This book reinforced my interest in teaching with one text throughout a course, instead of changing from topic to topic. Additionally, locating source texts that serve this learning that are couched in familiar topics for students is also important. We connect to what we know and understand, and by creating those connections in the classroom with interpreting practice, the experience will then move from the familiar to the knowing as the text highlights.
Additionally, I previously taught using an Ignite Presentation called the Value of Failure. This, along with students’ experiences, offers an opportunity to discuss the value in failed experiences. This book reinforces the value of active learning while providing challenges to students, and it is my aim to do just this. By providing students’ with observed failures in decision-making, interpretations, or even discussions (after reflection), the book supports through empirical evidence how this approach can reinforce learning for the long term.
This idea of struggling and learning from failure also highlights the humanistic aspect of our work. By making visible our fallibility, we are better able to identify with others and connect our work to ourselves. In a field where humans are at the center, it seems this work is necessary to continue to move our pedagogical approaches to the next level. To add to this, our value of community and connections will be reinforced, creating a cyclical system of learning and community.
Lastly, this book helped to highlight how I may consider constructing service-learning curricula to create stronger pathways for learning. By creating challenging experiences in which students wrestle with new problems, their learning will exceed that of what they may experience from reading about or observing in a community setting. Service-learning can be a challenging experience for many, but learning from struggle in this context and in others will gift students with an ability to learn at a greater depth than previously taught, according to Making It Stick.
This text without a doubt offers insight in our practice as educators, community members and interpreting professionals in the context of teaching and learning. The ideas, supporting by research, embedded in this text give concrete examples for ways in which we may more concretely make thinking visible (Ritchhart, Church and Morrison, 2011) for students to have a greater understanding of the art of thinking and learning .
Ritchhart, R., Church, M., & Morrison, K. (2011). Making thinking visible: How to promote engagement, understanding, and independence for all learners. John Wiley & Sons.