Again all quotes come from The Skillful Teacher (Brookfield, 2015) unless otherwise stated. This chapter really allowed me to get some feedback on some practices I have been attempting to apply to my courses. I am happy to say that a lot of the recommendations in this chapter I am practicing.
"When we use any teaching approach, we need to be clear exactly what it's intended to achieve. This clarity should be apparent not just to us but also to students." p. 71
This is something I always have to remind myself when I am making up new activities and going over lesson plans. This keeps me focused!
I believe in the following quote 100% . " There's only one thing more contagious than enthusiasm and that's the lack of it."(Bligh, 2000) p. 72 in the Skillful Teacher .
This is something I try to do every lecture. I have been in lectures where it is boring or the instructor doesn't seem to care and this doesn't make me want to learn or even pay attention. I am hoping everyone is teaching subjects they are interested in but even I find it hard to be enthusiastic when it is a subject that does not grab your attention. Does anyone have any helpful hints when you are assigned a topic that doesn't peak your interest?
Race(2001), Brown and Race, (2002) and Hepner (2007) talk about characteristics of helpful lectures. Some of the key points are:
" use a variety of teaching and communication processes"
" clearly organized so students can follow the head of the lecture's thought"
"model the learning behaviours expected in the course" p.73 The Skillful Teacher
Excellent points and this allowed me to analyze what I am doing in the class and I feel that I have these characteristics in each lecture with the additional of student feedback. One of the first things I did when I took over a course was organize. Which helped me see the path better and therefore the student to. I share a map of the course at the beginning when going over the course outline so there are no surprises. I think this really helps the students visualize the learning path we will be on. I also find organization to be key if you are passing the subject off to another instructor. It is a lot of work but I have found if you put the time in, it makes a big difference, especially for a first time instructor.
I had heard something like this before where students only hear the first 10 minutes and the last 10 minutes of lecture so when you are planning the course 20 minutes of material is all that is needed for an hour class and use the rest of the time for activities. I recently had the opportunity of sitting in on a lecture and this was the first time I had done so since becoming a teacher. I found my thoughts wandering and this was a great lesson for me to remember because as an instructor I tend to forget how much energy it takes to learn. Bligh (2000) mentions "approximately 12 minutes as the optimum period of time in which students can be expected to listen to uninterrupted talk that focuses one idea or sub theme. "
I sometime get very excited about a subject and I want to pile on more information but I have to remind myself that sometimes less is more and that my job as an instructor isn't necessarily to give the students all the information but the key points and direct them to explore and discover on their own. We only have so much time for lecture! I really struggled with this at the beginning.
To piggyback on what Race, Brown and Hepner mentioned about organization. " Two ways to help students follow a lecture are to 1) provide handouts that provide the scaffolding for the lecture and 2) offer plenty of verbal signals when new points, changes in direction , or important caveats are being said." p. 78
When I read this it made me happy because this is something that I try to do in my courses as well. I have even made a symbol to put on my slides to grab the student's attention that this is a key point. Its' like finding Waldo in my Power points.
There is a paragraph (p.81) mentioning introducing alternative perspectives and I have had the opportunity of having another instructor sit in on my classes for most of the term. This person was assisting in the labs and I found this to be very helpful. There would be times throughout the lecture where she would provide a different perspective than me and provide examples for the students. I feel this really benefited the learning environment and highly recommend it. The key though is not to compete or feel threatened by someone else's perspective. Having a solid relationship with the instructor before hand built on trust really helped make this work.
Bligh, D.A. (2000). What's the Use of Lectures? San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Brookfield, S. D. (2015). The skillful teacher: on technique, trust, and responsiveness in the classroom. Jossey-Bass.
Brown, S., and Race, P. (2002) Lecturing: A Practical Guide. Sterling, VA: Stylus.
Hefner, F. (2007). Teaching the Large College Class: A Guidebook for Instructors with Multitudes. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
Race, P. (2001). The Lecturer's Toolkit: A Practical Guide to Learning, Teaching and Assessment. London:Kogan Page.