Unconditional Teaching

a living manifesto for healthier relationships in education

Essays

Tyll Zybura | 24 Jul 2019 |
Deutsch English

Seit 2019 schreiben wir Essays und Artikel, in denen wir als Hochschullehrende unsere Haltungen, Denkweisen und Methoden reflektieren und vorstellen.

Since 2019, we have been writing essays and articles in which we, as university teachers, reflect and elaborate on our attitudes, ways of thinking, and teaching practices.


Empathisch handeln (statt empathisch sein)

Warum unser konventionelles Verständnis von Empathie problematisch ist und wie Empathie als Praktik unsere Lehre verbessern kann.

26 Oct 2021 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Empathie, Macht, Privileg, Verletzlichkeit, DE

About Acknowledgements, Needs, and Vulnerability in Academia

One of my students showed me the humanity of the academic project with a simple page of acknowledgements.

15 Oct 2021 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Vulnerability, Academic writing

We choose which version of our students we invite into our classroom

In this article I explore what we as teachers can do in order to invite the best version of our students into our classroom, taking my cue from Solution Focused coaches, who are experts in inviting a version of their clients into the session that wants to make their life better and has the resources to do so.

18 Jul 2021 | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Student-teacher relationship, Solution Focused Practice

Teaching into the void: Musings on online teaching during a pandemic [Update]

Working from home has its perks but teaching can become quite a frustrating, lonely experience when asynchronous teaching is involved. After two semesters of online teaching and going into the third, I want to describe in this article the hurdles I perceive, how I overcame some of them, and what I still find challenging about online teaching.

17 May 2021 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Online teaching, Corona crisis, Distance teaching, Distance learning

Good Girl = Good Teacher?

Kindness and the tendency to accommodate others can help to foster relationships in education. However, when “Good Girls” grow up to be teachers, their uncompromising yearning for other people’s affections may have problematic consequences.

13 Oct 2020 | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Teaching practices

First Aid in Mental Health: 3 things you can do to help your students and colleagues

How can we administer first aid in mental health emergencies if we feel that engaging with people (and often strangers) in distress is putting our own mental well-being at risk?

11 Aug 2020 | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Student-teacher relationship

Teaching about plagiarism (or not)

As teachers, we need to frame plagiarism as a technical problem, not a moral one. Learning how to avoid plagiarism is an integral part of learning what academic writing is about. In fact, once students understand how and why to write as scholars, plagiarism will become a non-issue.

22 Jun 2020 | 2 comments | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Teaching practices, Teaching writing, Plagiarism, Accountability, Positionality, Ownership

Killing curiosity: why exams harm scholarship and education

Teaching is about establishing and sustaining connection between curious minds to create and to share ideas and knowledge. Exams are about generating distance and social barriers to safeguard privilege. They are harmful to students and harmful to scholarship.

21 Apr 2020 | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Institutional education, Testing, Grading, Intrinsic motivation, Power, Gate-keeping, Privilege, Mastery

Learning with the freedom to make mistakes

In higher education, mistakes are seen as something that needs to be punished. This article argues that ‘making mistakes’ is a vital part of learning and that learning needs the freedom to make mistakes to be healthy.

3 Mar 2020 | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Teaching practices, Making mistakes, Healthy learning, High-stakes learning, Grades

Showing vulnerability

Acknowledging our vulnerability as teachers by addressing difficulties in class openly is a powerful strategy for connection and learning.

17 Feb 2020 | 4 comments | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Vulnerability, Communication, Empathy, Conditional teaching

The discourse of wasted potential – a critique

The discourse of wasted potential is omnipresent but it may be a harmful way of speaking about ourselves, relating to others, and thinking about our or others' accomplishments.

14 Jan 2020 | 3 comments | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Mental health, Communication, Student-teacher relationship

Radical Acceptance and expectations in teaching

In this piece, I elaborate on how the concepts of Radical Acceptance, the “trust-default”, and the distinction between personal and professional expectations helped me to improve and feel better about my teaching and get a better understanding for what I think unconditionality in teaching should entail.

17 Dec 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Mental health, Radical Acceptance

Speaking to students about self-care and mental health

Spending thirty minutes of one class session on honest talk about stress and suffering and coping and healing can have an enormous positive impact on our students’ lives.

28 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Self-care, Empathy, Powertools

The poisonous perfectionist vs the constructive critic

Perfectionism is a fear-based attitude towards failure that inhibits learning and encourages self-sabotage. We can fight it by strengthening the inner constructive critic to focus on processes of revision and improvement.

27 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Analysis, Teaching writing, Perfectionism, Self-doubt

Katharina on Unconditional Teaching

In this entry, I look into Alfie Cohn's concept of unconditional parenting, which has influenced my thinking about Unconditional Teaching.

22 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Unconditional Teaching, Alfie Cohn, Unconditional parenting, Conditional teaching

Downscaling course prep tasks

When students don’t do my prep assignments, I teach them how to ‘downscale’ homework instead of not doing it at all. This leads to homework being done more consistently as it empowers students to consciously manage their resources and priorities.

14 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Communication, Time management

Relieving stress in student writing

I found that I can relieve the writing anxiety many of my students have by de-emphasising normative writing advice and facilitating an appreciative, non-evaluative awareness of their individual writing strategies.

14 Oct 2019 | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Teaching writing, Strategies-based teaching

On ‘embracing mediocrity’

Students often have an unhealthy all-or-nothing attitude toward their work which increases stress levels. They relax a bit when they learn to prioritize their work and allow themselves to ‘embrace mediocrity’ on low-stakes tasks to save time and energy.

14 Oct 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Mental health, Deutsche Übersetzung, Powertools

No apologies necessary

In my experience as a teacher, students apologize far too much. I think that is troubling, so I try to reframe their ‘failure’ to meet some formal expectation or other as a chance to take control of their own learning.

14 Oct 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Teaching practices, Communication

On doing empathy

Why our usual thinking about empathy is flawed and how empathy as practice will improve our teaching.

6 Aug 2019 | 1 comment | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Empathy, Vulnerability, Privilege, Power

Tyll on Unconditional Teaching

In this entry, I draw a parallel between the mindset of Unconditional Basic Income (UBI) and our concept of Unconditional Teaching.

24 Jul 2019 | Tags: Essays, Mindset, Unconditional Basic Income, Teaching writing