Posts Tagged ‘advice to new instructors’
You’ve been assigned your first online class to teach and you feel like you’re ready. You’ve done your homework and learned the ins and outs of the institution’s course management system. You’ve structured your content in purposeful ways and developed thoughtful guiding questions to situate student learning and motivate them. When the class starts, however, you realize that while everything is technically functioning correctly, many of the students are not engaged. While you were looking forward to teaching online and interacting with students, the students are approaching your course as if it’s an independent study. This wasn’t what you anticipated when you agreed to teach online!
March 28 - How to Handle Student Excuses
“Grandpa’s heart exploded, but he’s fine now,” one student reported the morning after missing a scheduled exam. “I caught dyslexia from another student last semester,” responded another when his teacher asked him about all the spelling mistakes in his paper. And then there was the pet rabbit that swallowed a needle on the day of the big group presentation. Excuses like these are so preposterous that they can’t help but make us laugh, but dealing with them is no laughing matter.
September 12 - Advice to New Teachers and New Students: Learning is a Quest
Three new teachers at the front end of academic careers, about to face their first classes as teachers, want to know from somebody at the back end, “What’s most important for new teachers to know?” I don’t hear myself saying anything very coherent. I don’t want to give what new teachers frequently get: pat answers and banal suggestions that seem to be helpful without actually being so.
July 30 - Three Steps to Better Course Evaluations
With each semester’s end comes the often-dreaded course evaluation process. Will the students be gentle and offer constructive criticism, or will their comments be harsh and punitive? What do students really want out of a course, anyway? A better time to think about course evaluations is at the beginning of the semester. At that point, an instructor can be proactive in three areas that I have found lead to better course evaluations.
In the now classic article Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers, author Jim Eison offers priceless advice for new teachers. Over the years, I have given hundreds of copies of this article to new and not-so-new faculty. Even though it was published more than 20 years ago, it still deserves a place in your collection of indispensible articles on college teaching.
Out-of-class communication makes student-teacher relationships more personal and contributes to student learning. It is also the wellspring for continued academic exchange and mentoring. Unfortunately, electronic consultations via email have diminished the use of in-person office hours. Although students and faculty favor email contact because it’s so efficient, interpersonal exchanges still play an important role in the learning process—much research verifies this. As teachers we have a responsibility to encourage, indeed entice, our students to meet with us face-to-face.
For the new college teacher, it is best to learn from those who have been there. In 23 Practical Strategies to Help New Teachers Thrive, you will learn the tips and techniques that have proven successful for experienced faculty, and explore how they can be used and adapted in your own classes.
You work too hard in the classroom to let your efforts get derailed by common – and avoidable – mistakes. Practice a little preventive medicine with this special program!
March 31 - A Lifeline for Those Teaching Large Classes
Simon, who teaches very large economics classes wonders in a blog comment if the kind of facilitative learning described in the March 2 post is possible in mass classes. I’d like to use this post to address his query. First off, as any large course instructor knows, teaching those big, required, introductory courses is not easy. In fact, it may well be the most difficult teaching assignment given to teachers. In my mind this raises a host of intriguing questions about who should be teaching and taking those courses. But that’s a topic for another post.
December 6 - Things Effective Teachers Do
It’s been a while since I was an undergrad, but I still remember my two favorite professors. They had completely different personalities and teaching styles, they even taught in different departments, but they did some things in very similar ways. I think that’s what made them so effective. It really wasn’t the content — although that was part of it — it was more the classroom experience they created.