14 Educational Philosophy, Concepts, Methods, and Skills in Teaching attention and interest, increase the retention of material, and provide a com- mon class experience. We always introduce a new semester by telling our stu- dents that we hope that they will learn—a lot—and have fun in the process. Consistent with the use of humor in social work practice, we are sensitive to its purpose: Entertaining students is not the goal, but rather a means to an end, which is to enhance students’ connection to the material and humanize both ourselves and what we are teaching. We also are keenly aware that we must constantly monitor our students’ reactions when we use humor, just as we must do in practice. We do not want to inadvertently offend students or turn them off with an inappropriate or ill-timed comment. To be effective, humor has to reflect the style of the teacher. Whether it be showing cartoons, making witty remarks, using puns and ironies, telling jokes, or shaping self-disparaging quips, the type of humor must be congruent with the instructor’s personality. Using Role-Plays Role-plays can help students experience the perspectives of others, explore their own reactions and behaviors, and rehearse new behaviors. Because they can create much anxiety, instructors must create an environment and struc- ture the assignment in a way that lessens students’ fears about “performing” in front of their peers and their teacher. Eight tasks can help with this. Provide a description of the practice situation and context. The instructor must provide sufficient detail so that students can convincingly enact the role-play and they and their classmates can identify concepts that the role-play reflects. The situation should be challenging enough to stimulate thinking and motivate learning, but straightforward enough to make the situation specific, clear, and short, with only one or two learning objectives. The actual roles should be open to interpretation, so that the players can behave as they think the role should be performed. The participants should be volunteers. Begin with two-person role-plays. When role-play is new to a class, it is helpful to begin with ones featuring a worker and a single client, building gradually to group role-plays. Having the entire class role-playing at the same time in small groups decreases self-consciousness because there is no audience. Engage in role-play spontaneously. As students become accustomed to role-playing, they can be invited to participate more spontaneously. When a student raises a question or refers to a practice experience, the teacher might suggest role-playing it to see what might be done or what might have gone awry—having the student questioner “brief” the role-players.
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