One of my friends recently linked to this article in Hybrid Pedagogy (an open-access teaching and learning journal) about Distinguished Professor of American History Dr. Cate Denial’s journey to what she calls a “pedagogy of kindness”.
The article is about transitioning from a gatekeeping approach to a discipline where one looks for ways of penalizing non-compliant students to an approach that takes seriously student struggles with integrating life and learning. She found it to be a more compassionate approach that was more true to who she was as a person.
Some of the changes she made to her teaching included:
- Believing students when they tell her that life events interrupted their ability to be in her class
- Building student ownership in her courses by crafting a syllabus after asking students questions about the topics they’d be covering
- Building consensus with her classes about what constituted a “meaningful assignment”
- Offering additional options for students with and without disabilities to engage with her course in the spirit of universal design for learning.
I highly recommend the article if you think prioritizing kindness might help your teaching break through to your students and get beyond a transactional model of education.