The Importance of Trusting Your Gut
A lot about pedagogy is about what “feels” right- at least if you have taught for long enough. The more time you spend in an educational environment the more you develop a sense of who you are as an educator, your role in relation to teaching and learning, and I believe this is true of any career. This is exactly why authentic learning opportunities and experiential learning are useful, the more one applies knowledge and skills the more information will stick. So if you have spent close to a decade or more in higher education you have a better understanding of what seems like decent inclusive ethical pedagogy.
There are evidence-based strategies proven through research and application and institutional academic policies also help to maintain academic freedom in the content delivery and context of the material. However, there is also a type of intangibility that is nascent to pedagogical practice, a trusting of your gut as an educator that becomes second nature. The best example of this is the difference of how a course feels when you teach it the first time to when you teach it a third time. The first semester you have outcomes and content and an idea of how this could be best delivered. Before the second semester you reflect and then change aspects like readings, activities, assessments based on experience and feedback. By semester three you are again changing things to keep the pedagogy aligned to student demographics and advances in the field but these might be minimal because everything seems to fall into place. Educators develop what can be referred to as pedagogical proprioception, a sixth sense or what will work well and what needs to be done to ensure deep learning, engagement, and community building.
Depending on one’s life experience or field you may be told to ignore that sense, that the gut feeling may simply be a reaction to a meal you ate that may have been a bit off. However, pedagogical proprioception should become part of a critical pedagogy- in line with reflective practices. This is the time of year that everyone is so busy that stopping to listen to what your gut may or may not be saying seems like time you don’t have or shouldn’t take. This post is to say, take that time, you will thank yourself later. Developing an ability to trust yourself and your gut is something that may come naturally to some or may develop over time for others. I promise this isn’t going to dissolve into a Myers Briggs S-N, T-F post. It is simply an almost mid-week intervention of sorts to say it is the beginning of November, we are doing what we do and doing it well and if you are unsure, stop and feel.
Prescience exists on many levels, micro and macro. An inclusive pedagogy means access, it means empathy, it means holistic awareness, but it also means trusting ourselves to feel our way and be open to modifications that will make the educational experience a rewarding one for learners and for ourselves. And we do this already every day without noticing it: reading the room while delivering content, checking for comprehension, revisiting how assignments or formative activities scaffold. You are already well versed in your pedagogical proprioception, it is a matter of bringing it to the surface.
So my suggestion for this week is to stop for a bit (maybe this weekend) and write down 1 or 2 things your gut is telling you. Write it out, don’t let it simply sit in your mind. You may be surprised at what you find or maybe you exactly needed to spell it out for yourself. I would love to hear what you come up with. Happy AcWriMo to those of you working hard typing out the words!