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The Best Teachers Make Lists

February 10, 2013

Some of us are doing this teaching step — a combination of Atul Gawande’s book, The Checklist Manifesto, and Ken Bain’s thinking in What the Best College Teachers Do — and it’s worthy of all our consideration as a way to be more intentional about our teaching and work each week.

On Sunday of each week, try writing down 3-4 goals you have for your classes, advisees, teams, groups, dorm, department. They do not have to be expansive or life-changing: they can be a couple of specific to-do’s like “create paper topic; visit so-and-so’s class; focus on dorm activity for 10-10:30 pm.”

The key here is that we begin the week with some goals, and then try to stay focused on them. The goals can change, adjust, alter, transform, but it’s important to have some as we start the week.

We are all probably making a list subconsciously; however, writing down the goals, cataloging them, thinking about them intentionally, will help us be more effective at achieving them. Additionally, having a history of these lists will create a powerful narrative and portfolio of your work as a teacher, coach, director, dorm parent, advisor, colleague, administrator.

If you want to grab a “goals buddy” to help you hold to these goals, or share these priorities, that’s another good step in collaboration and collegiality.

I welcome your feedback.

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