Writing about your Teaching Practice: Your DIY Writing Workshop

originally published: 15th November 2022

Finding your SoTL Writing Voice

This post is based on a CPD session I ran today, for colleagues and PGR students who are new to SoTL and trying to figure out just where to begin with it. I am going to share the writing prompts with you. So if you want to use this to dip your toes into writing about your teaching* practice this might be a fun exercise to do for the second half of #AcWriMo2022.

I am using image slider in this blog and added caption below the images as I am not sure ALT text translates well.

First Writing Prompt

Images show first writing prompt. Write one sentence only: Who are you as educator (teacher)?

These are some examples I concocted for this exercise. One sentence about who you are as teacher (educator):

  • I am caring, slightly frazzled with occasional pearls of wisdom.
  • I love-hate teaching and don’t know why I show up every day.
  • I am organised, professional and enjoy guiding my students through their learning.

How was this exercise? If you would like to reflect further on it. Have a think about where this idea of your ‘teacher’ you is coming from. What do you think influenced this? Are all of these positive, constructive influences? Are there aspects you want to extend and build on? Are there aspects you would like to let go off?

Second Writing Prompt

This image shows the second writing prompt, which consists out of two questions: What is one insight about teaching you want to share with others? What is one item about teaching you want to know more about?

In the CPD session today some people struggled with finding something they wanted to know more about. I am not sure if this is a matter of not knowing what you don’t know quite yet. Or simply not yet being practiced in reflecting about your teaching practice. I am afraid to say, once you begin, this is a perpetual cycle of becoming, self-discovery, and learning.

Your voice is important!

In Scholarship (of Teaching and Learning) when we share our practice, our learning, and insights from our practice, this all contributes to an ever evolving and growing body of experience and evidence. Teaching is highly contextual and personal. What works for you today, might not work for you tomorrow.

You know, that one session or activity, when you tried it for the first time it worked amazingly well. You may have left the session feeling energised, and the next time you run this activity or session, it flatlines. There is not engagement–why is this? This is a good situation to have a poke at and trying to figure out what made it work well and what was different the time it didn’t work well.

With this in mind, here are some additional prompts:

  • What would make someone else interested in your insights or stories?
  • What topics would you be interested to hear about?
  • What questions would you seek to answer by reading others’ accounts?

Third Writing Prompt

This image is the third writing prompt: Write for 30 minutes. Use the prompts or insights from above, what is a story about teaching you want to tell? Maybe something funny, a eureka moment, an idea you want to share.

Just write. Don’t think too much about it. Let your mind wander and latch onto a memory for teaching, you can use as a starting point. Try to write in first person.

Once you are done with this, you could search for literature, and find some accounts that might focus on similar topics. Keep in mind you are moving in a transdisciplinary field. These papers, books, blog posts might be from a different disciplinary background than your own.

Why are we writing about our teaching Practice?

Writing critical reflection about your teaching practice, showing how you made decisions on pedagogy (teaching methods, teaching spaces etc), basing this on literature, can be useful for promotion and fellowship applications.

If you make this part of your teaching practice it can help you develop your own practice, you can share this with other teachers (educators), use it as a focus point for networking, building relationships across the boundaries of your institution, find likeminded people, develop opportunities for collaboration.

So this was all about getting started with writing about your teaching practice (for SoTL). Let me know what you think and what else would be useful.

*When I talk about teaching and teaching practice, I mean this in the widest sense: traditional classroom, lecture hall, seminar, lab teaching but also supervision, mentoring, learning technology, learning support.

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