What Can Our Students Teach Us?

Last week I listened to the Teaching in Higher Ed podcast episode 118.  The guest was Mike Wesch, and his topic was “Teacher Becomes Student Through LIFE 101.”

I had never heard of Wesch before, but I had seen this video.  The more I listened, the more intrigued I became.  As soon as the episode ended, I immediately had to watch The Sleeper and read “Steps Toward a Big Idea Syllabus” with “a ridiculously over-hyped trailer” video at the end.

My first reaction?  After the “Wow!” I immediately thought these things would never work in my courses.  I don’t have the freedom or the luxury to do these activities and projects.  However, I did have a few key takeaways:

  1. At the end of the “Steps Toward a Big Idea Syllabus,” Wesch includes a TLDR (too long; didn’t read) comment – “Start with Who not What:  ‘Who are my students and who do they need to become?’ rather than “What content should I cover?'”  This is powerful, no matter where or what you teach.  And it’s something that we can all do.
  2. Wesch is having fun!  It’s obvious when you listen to him talk about his classes and even more so if you visit his video links and stalk everything he’s done explore.
  3. He is also continuously learning.  He notes in the podcast that he is currently taking violin lessons.  From one of his students!  It’s all part of his Try Something New for 30 Days approach.

I want to be Wesch.  I want to connect with my students – find out who they are and who they want to become so I can help get them there.  But, I also want to know what their skills and talents are.  What can they teach me as I teach them?  I want to listen more and better.  Maybe that will be my Try Something New for 30 Days.  What’s yours?

Note:  This post is shorter than my typical post for a reason.  Use the time that you would typically spend reading my blog and explore the podcast, videos, and website below.  It will be time well-spent, I promise.



  1. […] A few short weeks ago, I shared “How Will You Spend Your Break?”  While I encourage each and every one of you to rest and rejuvenate, I also encourage you to begin thinking about the next year.  What do you want to accomplish?  What’s your goal?  If you are planning on increasing your professional development and continuing your own learning, I encourage you to visit “Professional Development – In Three Forms” and the post about what our student can teach us. […]


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