Developing my spielraum

This semester is my first as an instructor.

Although I have a lot of experience as a Teaching Assistant in university physics classrooms, and even some (brief and low-responsibility) experience lecturing in front of a large class, being in full control of an entire classroom of students for the duration of a semester is an entirely new experience for me.

Knowing that you can only have a new experience once, I’ve created a space to document my observations, challenges, and reflections as I undergo the transformation from an idealistic PhD graduate to a more seasoned university-level instructor.

Spielraum is my teaching reflection blog. Every day I teach, I record a new story, thought, or speculation based on my adventures in the classroom. By the end of the semester, I’ll have a complete story about my first experiences as an instructor.

The name comes from a paper I read a few months ago, while sifting through the literature on teacher professional development [1]:

To understand the nature of masterful practice which does not need reflection prior to action, we draw on Heidegger’s notion of spielraum (room to maneuver) which is constituted by the range of possibilities currently available to an agent in the experienced world. As agents become familiar with some context, their reality expands, and with it, the spielraum and therefore the possibilities for acting.

Experience entails spielraum: teachers increase the range of virtual actions available to them at any moment, and without reflections, and these provide them with the necessary room to maneuver.

Four weeks into the semester, I can already feel my spielraum expanding. You’re welcome to follow along at


[1] Roth, W. M., Masciotra, D., & Boyd, N. (1999). Becoming-in-the-classroom: A case study of teacher development through coteaching. Teaching and Teacher Education, 15(7), 771-784.


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