Alexs Pate, the author of Amistad, visited my college last year to speak about rap, writing and a whole mess of stuff that was on his mind. I ran across a one-sentence note I made during his talk:
Writers need an empathetic imagination with their characters.
Rephrase this as:
Teachers need an empathetic imagination with their students.
And now it’s beautifully stated as a core principle of my teaching. On end of course evaluations, I add this task (and others) to the form:
I believe it is important for a teacher to see their content through his/her students’ eyes; not just to understand things in his/her own way.
What evidence have you seen that I attempted to see the content of this course through the eyes of an [e.g.] 1100 student?
And these comments are the ones that most guide my planning for future semesters. When diverse students cite diverse aspects of the course, I know I have done well. When students leave this blank or if they all cite the same thing, I know there is work to be done.