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"The Educator's Resource" featured Christen Cupples Cooper in "Teaching Outside the Text"


"The Educator's Resource" featured Christen Cupples Cooper in "Teaching Outside the Text"

Textbooks often supply a skeletal deck of PowerPoint slides for each chapter of a textbook. I add to these, putting in links to videos, current journal or newspaper articles, images from the web and even my own diagrams when I feel it’s necessary. I pull in my own experience and include that in my lecture whenever I can.

Ask colleagues to guest lecture and co-teach to broaden the expertise (and teaching styles) you offer your students. I am director of a new Coordinated MS in Nutrition and Dietetics at Pace University in Pleasantville, NY. My clinical coordinator and I will co-teach our class on Professional Issues in Dietetics. She is an ace at MNT and I am a community/entrepreneurship person. We will split the lessons to give our students both of our perspectives, expertise and different personalities/teaching styles. This course is also one we offer the first semester of our program so this way students get to know us and we get to know each and every student up-front. We also get to fire them up about all of the possibilities in our growing field!

Shake things up. We have content we have to teach, yes. But I have found that sometimes, after a major world event or on a snowy day when everyone is half asleep, a debate/conversation about a hot topic can really bring the class back to center. Students get to learn from one another, learn the importance of LISTENING and not always talking and get to know our thoughts as professors as well. It shows students that thinking on one’s feet and reading the newspaper, especially articles involving food, nutrition, the environment is very important to our success and broad understanding of how RDNs fit into the economy and the world. Some of the most awesome classes I have held included impromptu debates. To catch the students up, I recorded my “regular” lecture on YouTube and I asked them to watch it. They did so without complaint.

Walking the walk as well as talking the talk. I had incredible mentors at Teachers College, Columbia University. Dr. Pam Koch in particular is a huge proponent of the notion that we absorb little of what we read; we absorb a bit more of what we read and hear, and more of what we read, hear and see. But DOING is what makes knowledge and skills stick. So, Pam’s classes were always hands-on. We didn’t just read about how shipping food long distances burns fossil fuels and is damaging to the environment, we researched food products and made maps on how many food miles the foods we chose had to travel to get to market. When we addressed preschool nutrition, Pam had us slicing and dicing fruits and veggies with plastic knives just as preschoolers would. She SHOWED us what we needed to do and it gave me great confidence go out and put my knowledge and skills into practice.

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