The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Key Statement: Reset by reflecting on what you love most about teaching.
Restarting and resetting mean almost the same thing. Almost, but not quite. There is a subtle difference. When we stop doing something and then start doing it again, we restart. We can finish the spring semester, be off from teaching for a bit, and then restart again in the summer semester or fall. I have restarted many times over the years. Similarly, The Scholarly Teacher is now restarting as we return from a summer hiatus. There is always a bit of excitement when we restart that comes with the opportunities for new possibilities. A slightly different concept, however, is for us to reset. I am not talking about a total reset to manufacturer settings. We have too much invested to do that, and I am not interested in reliving the teen years under any circumstance.
I am talking about a reset that maintains the foundation of what we do, yet subtly and significantly transforms us. Think for a moment about what that might look like, by reflecting on what you love most about teaching. What are those moments that, at the end of the day, make you feel like there is no greater profession and that you want to do this for the rest of your life? How might we have more of those moments? How can we, at The Scholarly Teacher, come along with you to support such moments in the 2022–2023 school year?
The first way we can enjoy more meaningful moments is to create circumstances in which they occur. As an educator, you work with students to guide and encourage them on their path. When done well, meaningful and amazing moments appear: Eyes that light up at finally “getting” a concept. A higher-than-expected exam score. Sharing successfully in class for the first time. Helping you to create those special moments in teaching and learning is one reason we have The Scholarly Teacher. Over the past 8 years, we posted many blogs on topics designed to guide educators in creating more of those moments, such as strategies to promote collaboration and community in online classes (Steiner & Lemke, 2022), responses for addressing micro and macroaggressions in the classroom (Pittman, 2021), making mentoring meaningful (Benson, 2021), being a more inclusive educator (Scott, 2021), and better understanding who the quiet students are in the classroom and ways to help them feel more comfortable participating in class discussions (Zakrajsek, 2017). We have also launched several infographics designed to “level up” your classroom experiences. These blogs and infographics are contributed by educators from throughout the country who have recognized when and how students and educators struggle, succeed, and often triumph. We hope you will consider submitting a blog to share your moments of joy with colleagues during the coming months.
The second way to have those fantastic educational moments of bliss: recognize them. There has never been a better time to take a moment to quiet the world, our minds, and our classrooms and watch for special moments. When those moments appear, take a second to bask in that moment and be happy for your student, and yourself as an educator with purpose. Over the past 8 years we have posted blogs on topics such as not being
overwhelmed (Zakrajsek, 2021), connected learning (Schwartz, 2021), and preventing burnout (Murti & Ringenbach, 2018). When it comes to recognizing meaningful moments, I recall listening to a strategy described by Rachel Naomi Remen (2006), an MD in behavioral medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. She asked burned-out physicians to take a moment at the end of a shift and think back through their day. As they thought through the day’s events, they were to write in a notebook response to the following three questions:
1. What first surprised you today?
2. What first touched your heart today?
3. What first inspired you today?
Remen noted that some individuals take longer than others, but everyone eventually starts to see these things as they reflect on the happenings of their day. Then something amazing begins to happen. Individuals began to see more of these things in the moment, as they happen. Seeing meaning, Remen explained, is a skill we cultivate. And when we more clearly and consistently see the things that surprise us, touch our heart, and inspire us, we learn to take time to celebrate those moments. Those moments make our work lighter and our days more filling. At The Scholarly Teacher this year, we want to continue recognizing the moments you share that have surprised you, touched your heart, and inspired you. We also want to share those moments from our students’ perspectives, and will offer Calls for Submissions from student voices at regular intervals to hold space for their specific stories, challenges, and joys.
Each year educators restart, and at times, reset, but it has never been harder to pick up the charge than it is right now. But I know we will be okay. I know this because we will have those moments that remind us why we do this and why we wouldn’t do anything else. The Scholarly Teacher will support your efforts to bring about those moments and help you to recognize the moments where they appear spontaneously. We are part of an amazing community of dedicated and talented colleagues. Through The Scholarly Teacher this year we will continue to learn new strategies and different perspectives from some of those colleagues. If you have an evidence-based contribution that you feel will support this community, please submit your work.
1) When you think back on your teaching career, what experience comes to mind as your
first “moment of joy”?
2) What teaching strategies do you look forward to using most (e.g., think-pair-share, mini
lectures with active breaks, ill-defined problems in semester-long groups, etc.)? How can
you incorporate at least one of those joyful practices in your classes this year?
3) Have you ever kept a daily journal like that suggested by Rachel Naomi Remen? Try this
practice for a week and reflect on your internal changes.
Benson, S. (2021, October 4). Making mentoring meaningful and effective. The Scholarly
Pittman, C. (2021, September 15). 10 in the moment responses for addressing micro and
macroaggressions in the classroom. The Scholarly Teacher.
Murti, L., & Ringenbach, K. (2018, February 27). Creating work-life balance: Using personal
reflection to guide personal and professional growth. The Scholarly Teacher.
Remen, R. N. (2006). Kitchen table wisdom: Stories that heal. Riverhead Books.