Thursday, September 18, 2014

10 Things I Believe About Teaching

  1. A class can be challenging without being hard.
    • Instructors don’t have to make everything as hard as possible.  By making things challenging, but accessible, you’re more likely to win students’ attention and focus.
  2. If you know somebody’s name and look them in the eye, they’ll listen better.
    • Learning a student’s name is a show of respect that they’ll appreciate.  Making the effort to learn about your students strengthens the relationship.
  3. Fun and serious aren’t mutually exclusive.
    • If you’re excited about the topic you teach, it shouldn’t be hard to have fun with this.  Everybody likes to have fun.
  4. Evaluating frequently is better than evaluating at the end.
    • Research shows that smaller comprehensive exams enable students to retain more knowledge than a single final exam.  Keep them engaged with the material by evaluating them regularly.
  5. Students shouldn’t be the only ones being evaluated.
    • Most students won’t tell you outright that you’re doing something wrong or that they don’t like something you’re doing.  Ask them (and it’s best if you can ask them anonymously).
  6. Lectures aren’t the only way students learn.
    • Homework, projects, practice, self-study, student groups, and exams are also great educational tools.  Lecturing is only part of it, and it works better if you support it with other work.
  7. Practice makes perfect.
    • This goes for students as well as instructors.  Keep your students practicing through assignments, and keep practicing and tuning your material, delivery, and approach.
  8. A student doesn't have to get a good grade to learn good things.
    • There are plenty of C students that are just as strong as A students.  Understanding a topic and being able to get a good grade on an assignment or exam are not synonymous.  
  9. Enthusiasm is contagious.
    • If you’re really excited about the topic you’re teaching, your students will be, too.  The bad news is that if you’re not enthusiastic, it’ll rub off on them.
  10. Teaching is selling.
    • You have to get students to buy-in to your teaching process.  If they don’t believe in your product, they’re not going to want it.

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