Assignments that students will remember

In about 10 days’ time, I will be meeting my new students, that is, my new groups of preservice and inservice teachers. I created the following picture for introducing myself to my new students at the first class. The cartoon was drawn by some former students for a thank-you card to give me at the end of a course.

I then posted the picture on FB, hoping to amuse some of my FB friends. Within minutes, a former student, Kitty Chan, commented that I had given her this assignment before when she took my course some years ago.

Now, I have to honestly admit that I don’t remember giving this assignment before. But I won’t be surprised if I have, for sometimes I design assignments which invite preservice and inservice teachers to reflect on the reason they have chosen teaching as a career.

So I asked Kitty to confirm whether I had indeed given that assignment. She added:

Of course, Paul, I liked that assignment very much, it reminded me why I chose to be a teacher >~<
Well, this is heartwarming news to me: We teachers might think that students are simply putting up with the assignments we give. But now I know that there can be assignments that they like doing, and will remember for years. I should keep an eye out to such possibilities in the new academic year. The challenge now is identifying attributes of an assignment that students will enjoy, find meaningful, and hence remember for ages.

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