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Nourishing the Teacher – Starting on a good note

Welcome back to a new semester.  On our opening day, we had a few lost and wandering students but overall the semester started with minimal problems and a lot of excitement.  Our college wide theme for academics is “Celebrate Potential.”  In keeping with this theme, I will be sharing ideas through regular Nourishing the Teacher e-mails that focus on innovative and creative ways that we can get our students actively engaged and maximize their potential.  This first week I will focus on getting your students enthusiastic about your class.

I recently talked with a music teacher who started his music course Sight Singing and Ear Training by playing a difficult classical song. He then had the students try to transcribe the notes.  After everyone failed miserably, he told the class that ear training is really hard but important.  This message was generally lost on the students who did not relate to the classical piece or care about being able to transcribe the music.  He recently changed the lead-in to his course by playing a popular song that came out in the last two weeks.  He played a short snippet of the song and then put the students into small groups to transcribe the musical notes.  After the groups had struggled with it for a while he reviewed their efforts and praised them for their successes.  He then told the class that although this was hard now, they would learn how to do this better.  The difference in student enthusiasm that he noted between the two methods of starting the class was amazing.  Students could immediately relate to the importance of being able to transcribe a song they wanted to play and were eager to come back to learn more. 

Not many of us teach music but the principles he used to engage and excite students can be implemented in any class or to start a new topic.  This teacher found a connection between his class and his students’ life and interests.  He also allowed his students time to work together so they could start building relationships with each other.   Even when we are doing a good job in class, it might help to occasionally rethink how we structure our class to keep things interesting for us as well as our students.  All of us are tuned into the radio station WII-FM (What’s In It – For Me).  This is good to keep in mind as we look for ways to motivate our students.  I challenge us all to think of new ways to turn on the light bulb with our students.

We have a lot of creative talent within our faculty members. I am eager to hear about what you are doing this year to keep your teaching fresh and effective.  Remember to send me your ideas so you can be in the running for the “Sticking-your-neck-out Provost’s Innovation Award.” 

Teaching nugget

A teacher who is attempting to teach, without inspiring the pupil with a desire to learn, is hammering on a cold iron. (Horace Mann)

Bad joke to start the week

I used to think the brain was the most important organ. Then I thought, look what’s telling me that.

Steven Bishop, PhD
Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs
Ozarks Technical Community College
Springfield, MO 65802


Dr. Steven Bishop

Provost and Vice-Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Phone: 417-447-8152


Brenda Woods

Secretary to the Provost / Vice Chancellor

Phone: 417-447-8151


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