What have you learned recently? No, I don’t mean reflecting on life’s lessons. I mean what hard skill or idea have you picked up recently and used? If you aren’t constantly renewing your knowledge and skills, you rapidly become the old fogey in the room. Good leaders are not old fogeys, no matter what their age. Staying in touch with the most recent knowledge, skills and technologies help us articulate new visions that weren’t possible even a few years ago.
Contrary to popular opinion, university professors do not have the “summer off”. But we are privileged in that we can choose what we work on during the summer. My summer is usually a blend of learning, reading, presenting, writing, researching, developing new courses and revising existing courses. So this week I went to a two-day workshop on course development and revision at our university’s centre on teaching and learning. And yes, developing a course involves a lot more than grabbing a text-book and thinking about what assignments could make a student want to jump off a bridge.
As usual, I grabbed two gems from this workshop. First, I learned the importance of explicitly linking objectives, class activities and assessment together. So if you want a learning objective that the student be able to write an effective marketing recommendation, you should probably have an activity in class teaching them how to write an effective recommendation, and then measure that recommendation in a graded assignment. Second, I loved something called the “graphic syllabus”. Essentially a graphic syllabus is a visual representation of how the topics, skills and assessments all work together in your course outline.
What made me a good teacher ten years ago will not make me a good teacher today. We know more about what good teaching is today, we have more tools available, and students expectations have changed with new technology and different life experiences.
What made you a good manager or leader ten years ago may not work today. Our biggest challenges are to “unlearn” old lessons, to make room for new lessons. Have you learned anything new in the past six month? Are your knowledge, skills and abilities becoming irrelevant? Have you invested in learning recently? maybe it’s time.