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    I Learned To Teach At Hogwarts

    Didn't get the job teaching Herbology at Hogwarts? Well, you can still learn to teach from their faculty Here are some tips in Pedagogy Potter-style. A BuzzAdemia Exclusive

    When my daughter turned 11, she seemed to be so disappointed she didn't receive her Hogwarts acceptance letter. So we sat down and rewatched all the Harry Potter movies again, and I realized something: more than getting to do cool things with wands, Hogwarts has a lot to teach about teaching. As a college prof, I always need to be reminded of what makes a good teacher. Here were some notes I made...

    Challenges have to move with your students!

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    Moving targets are the best targets -- or better said, choose learning objectives that move with the student's abilities. A good writing prompt will offer something to all levels of writers. A good teacher will help them all catch their personal snitch, while other times watch the students chase what is just out of reach.

    Offer plenty of lab experience

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    Prof Sprout lets the students get their hands dirty, and as a result, no one needs a worksheet to remind them of the cry of the mandrake root.

    Make sure your lessons are hands-on!

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    Okay, blame the Polyjuice here, but even bad Hogwarts labs are exciting!

    Watch out for triggers

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    This past year's hot topic has been Trigger Warnings -- statements in syllabi that warn students of potentially troubling content. It's tricky. I mean, isn't college meant to shake students up a bit?

    That said, we all need to be sensitive to the experiences of students. When you bring up the Crucio curse, keep an eye out for Nevilles who might need a bit of support.

    Keep students focused on the TEXT

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    though perhaps with some provocative discussion questions rather than your hands.

    (ProTip: I find it best to give these questions at the start of class as mini-prompts, so everyone -- even the most reluctant student -- has at least something to share or read aloud during the open discussion.)

    Lift their imagination!

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    ...and watch Hermione nail Wingardium.

    However...

    Don't always call on the same student

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    Now Hermione's gender subjugation has recently been tackled on the BF, but to be honest, Hermione Grangers are challenges to every teacher. You want to let them shine and challenge them, but you've also got a room full of Crabbe and Goyles to deal with. Best thing to do, let her use her Time Turner and hire her as a Prefect or TA -- or skip straight to Assistant Professor.

    In other words...

    Let students teach each other

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    When students become peer educators, everybody wins, though they sometimes need additional reminders about appropriate teacher-student relations.

    Remember: One good prophecy can carry a whole career

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    Forget publish or perish. And it doesn't even matter if your masterpiece is destroyed before it can be heard. Find that one true idea you have to contribute to the world, and you're set!

    But if you do see yourself in these Coke bottle glasses, you might want to...

    Beware of smiling administrators...

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    'nuff said.

    They certainly won't approve of this next tip...

    Offer students real-world challenges

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    Whether in the books or the films, HP stories make one thing clear: Learn it in class first. Use it against Voldemort later.

    From facing Bogarts to drink Felix Felices. If it's mentioned in the first 100 pages or first 30 minutes of the film, be ready for it to be needed in the last 30!

    Remember this is how learning works. Students learn the lesson in the safety of a class session, but they'll only master the material when the stakes are a bit higher. How you raise the stakes is up to you. I'm fond of service projects that tackle pressing social issues. What's your poison?

    Don't get caught in duels with parents

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    Not sure what's worse, being the 7th Weasley to go through Hogwarts or ever having to receive a Howler from Mrs. Weasley. At least college profs have FERPA!

    A few more thoughts...

    Show students how to face them fears

    Teach them that the power lies within

    Let your students surprise you

    Teach your students to stand on their own

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    because...

    Voldemort will not arrive on a Scantron

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    This is REALLY important. The biggest challenges in life are so intractable because they are complex, because they adapt and evolve, and because they cannot be defeated with a mere Reducto.

    If you only prepare students to repeat what you've taught them, how are they gonna deal with big bad baldy?

    Teach them about things that will send them soaring

    Watch them soar

    'Cause sometimes it is the students who no one imagines anything of

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    who do the things that no one can imagine... Wrong movie, but right idea.

    Mark C. Marino has been teaching writing for nearly 20 years. Currently, he teaches writing at the University of Southern California when he is not serving as a Visiting Scholar at Hogwarts.

    What are your Hogwarts Tips? Add them in the comments?

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