In the September 14th, 2011 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Heather M. Whitney offered a simple way to improve teaching:
What we do and don’t recall easily is a funny thing. I’ve learned a lot of helpful information, science and teaching-wise, at the conferences I’ve attended, but some sticks in my mind without the help of notes and some doesn’t. One bit of information I recall most readily is a handy tip I learned from attending GradSTEP (Graduate Student Teaching Event for Professional Development) at Vanderbilt University, literally days after I defended my Ph.D. During one of the sessions, a panelist, very new to the professoriate herself, mentioned that immediately after each class, before she does anything else or even touches her computer, she takes a large 5×8″ sticky note and writes down what did or didn’t work well in that class period. She sticks that to her papers from the class and then uses that note the next time she teaches the course to improve her teaching. This relatively simple tip has been a lifesaver to me. It’s incredibly easy to forget such matters in the moments after leaving the classroom, but using the post-it note centers me enough to do some productive reflection, even if it is just for a fleeting moment. It also results in handy records that I can refer to the next time I teach the course. The result is better teaching and a mindset focused on continuous improvement. This little tip has meant wonders for my productivity, and I’m betting that’s why I remember it so easily.