Anatomy of a Huddle

I meet regularly with FYS colleagues. Many of whom are now dear friends. We are forever “huddling” around what’s working and what’s not in our teaching and learning, to include root causality (we’re very good at asking each other how we might have contributed to the problem…) books we’ve read and new ideas we’re trying.

One such new idea popped up last week.  I mentioned that we’d been hearing stories from our students regarding the good, bad, and ugly of FYS.  Their stories suggested a lot of variance in the application of our instructional design.

Of particular note were more than a few comments of students saying they thought FYS was a waste of time…that they had no idea why they were made to do this “inquiry stuff” or worse, play silly games that had little academic value.  On balance the stories were good, but the few bad ones were quite troubling.

Everyone at the table knew that last week I suggested we remind our students of the knowledge society and the need for graduates who could think critically and could embrace ambiguity and uncertainty.

Then we began to debate what we might do.  We knew that stilted conversations were not the problem, they were the symptom.  Of what? A lack of investment. Why? Despite our sharing (telling?) or eliciting the right answers from our students, many still haven’t bought in.

Tom Torello and I discussed an informal writing assignment that asked students to self-assess how they thought they were doing with in class – if you’re interested he shared his prompt on our Facebook page.

Siggy Nystrom chimed in with the great good idea that she was going to pass out a copy of the learning objectives and have her students develop and hold themselves accountable to an ELO rubric.

She wants this project to be student driven, not merely student-centered.  Simple, and brilliant.

I intend to adopt this idea for my own.  (I remember Chris Hakala doing something similar last year – he laminated and passed out copies of the six ELOs…)

That’s how huddles work. We didn’t have a fixed agenda, but the conversation led to ideas that led to questions, and more ideas.  The ideas emerged.  It was ad hoc.

I hope you too have been able take advantage of your colleagues’ experiences, insights, and ideas through an organized huddle.  What great good knowledge sharing!

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