This year, through a partnership with ACUE, Arizona State University is supporting and credentialing faculty members across eight of its schools and colleges, with faculty from physics to English literature, nursing to economics, and social work to women and gender studies. In our latest Faculty Spotlight, we hear from Michael Green, an ASU professor and ACUE alumnus who completed the ACUE program in fall 2016.
Michael is a principal lecturer and director of online programs in the English department. His courses include “Race and Gender in American Film,” “Los Angeles: Movies and Culture,” and “Science Fiction Cinema and Cultural Theory.” Michael is the coeditor of Race in American Film: Voices and Visions That Shaped a Nation, and his work has been published in several academic film journals and magazines. While a creative writing graduate student at ASU in 2006, Michael was a contestant on Jeopardy!, an experience that taught him about persistence—and timing.
Below, Michael shares several techniques he put into practice in his classroom to encourage student participation, offer flexibility, and promote learning.
Timing is everything.
As a student, I was always one of the first to raise my hand. I didn’t need time to process the question—which is probably what got me on Jeopardy! On the show, I was up against a four-time champ, and after finishing the first round in the red, I came all the way back to take the lead during Double Jeopardy. In the end, I came in second. I also got a lesson in timing.
The main thing about doing well on the show is mastering the buzzer—not buzzing in too early or too late. Since most of the contestants know the answers, I realized that one of the reasons champs tend to repeat is because they have mastered buzzer timing.
Timing matters in the classroom as well. Because I was always quick to raise my hand, it never occurred to me to wait for my students after I asked a question of the class. It’s always tempting to call on the first student, to keep the class discussion going, but it’s important to allow others to process the question and also have a chance. This was one of my main takeaways from the ACUE course, specifically from the module “Checking for Student Understanding.” It’s amazing how many more hands will go up waiting 15 seconds. As a teacher, it’s important to allow for a variety of learning processes.
Another ACUE idea that I implemented was giving each student a free late assignment coupon at the beginning of the semester. At first, I thought students might see them as gimmicky, but I was surprised by how many coupons were redeemed. I think it really helps students to know they can get a small break when they need it.
Never wing it!
Students know that you likely know more about your discipline than they do. But they also know you don’t know everything. I’ve found that admitting this up front tends to make them more amenable to what I have to impart. And if I don’t know something in class, instead of trying to fake it or ignore it, we look it up together.
Being a teacher is a huge privilege. I’ve learned that you can’t shortcut preparation. In fact, I actually class prep more now than I did a few years ago, when I thought I knew the material well enough to wing it. Never wing it! You need to have enough material prepared for the day and be able to change it up every 15 minutes or so. There are so many things waiting to vacuum up students’ attention in 2018 that you must keep them involved the entire time. If you aren’t prepared to transition them into the next class activity, you will lose them almost immediately.
To learn more about Michael Green, visit https://english.clas.asu.edu/content/michael-green