Educational Philosophy, Concepts, Methods, and Skills in Teaching 5 A direct conversation about students’ relationship to the instructor also facili- tates learning. Students should be invited to express directly their opinions and sentiments and to disagree freely with the instructor. Conformity and creativity are antithetical to one another. The classroom teacher should be an influential model of practice compe- tence for students as they struggle to achieve a sense of professional identity as social workers. In the classroom, as students listen to us describe how they should conduct themselves as professionals, they keenly observe how we conduct ourselves. We find it helpful to identify this subtle but powerful dynamic when we introduce the course, its content, and the way that we will all work together. Invite Student Feedback to Course Content and Methods Inviting student reactions and suggestions involves them in the educational journey. In this process, the teacher actively reaches for and pursues students’ concerns, doubts, silences, mistrust, and other reactions. Inviting feedback continues throughout the semester, as instructors check in with students to make sure that the information they are presenting is clear and students under- stand it and understand its relevance for their practice. Develop Mutual Agreement Out of this discussion, the instructor and the students develop an initial mutual agreement about content areas and teaching and learning responsi- bilities (including assignments and grades) that have emerged or that have been formally presented to the students, and to which they have responded. This mutual agreement provides a basis for periodic mutual evaluation of con- tent and methods and, at the end of the term, for mutual assessment of goal attainment and suggestions for future directions for the course. In this way, the teacher models how students should go about engaging their clients in the first session and, if appropriate, at the beginning of every session. We realize that every academic institution has developed a way to evaluate instructors and the course at the close of the semester. What we are suggest- ing is that students’ and instructors’ evaluation of the course be ongoing. For example, at about the halfway point in the semester, we ask our students to provide us with feedback about how the course is going and what changes, if any, they would like to see us make. We would much prefer to know at this point, rather than when the course is over, what modifications would enhance our students’ learning.
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