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The Darkness Offline
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Teaching advice? - January 14th 2018, 09:04 AM

Hey so some of you may know that I'm teaching a class this semester at my university through a program called the Experimental College. What that is is this program where current students (undergrad or graduate) teach a class of which they are passionate about without limits of the university admin says.
Anyways, it's my first time teaching anything ever and I'm teaching in a way that's supposed to be progressive, alternative to standard academia, and inspiring to my students. I already have laid out my syllabus with readings and assignments so all of the planning aspect of it is good to go. What I'm mostly worried about is just the idea of actually teaching the course.
My course is about cyberfeminism and in case you don't know what that is, it's basically feminism of the internet and technology. So we're gonna be looking at the internet, all that's happening and seeing it in a feminist lens. I want to teach in a style that is kinda like a class I had before in which the professor did a really good job of getting the ball rolling on discussions. I noted that she'd first ask a broad question like "how was everyone's weekend? did anyone think about love?" and we'd somehow get the conversation moving to the assigned readings of the day.
I told this to one of my fellow exco members and she said that it sounds like the whole class was comfortable in there and I should keep that in mind.
So what I'm wondering, how do you even get conversations rolling? How do you make the whole class comfortable?
I intend on making a classroom agreement where we all collectively make the rules of the classroom on the first day. That's something some of my favourite classes have done and have had a positive outlook during discussions.
Also, I intend to lecture a little but not all that much. I want this class and intend this class to be majorily discussion based upon the readings provided. Though, I don't want it to seem too quiet or difficult to get the ball rolling, and I don't want to make too many rules about participation. After all, I have no authority other than its my own free will to teach a class and respect demands respect.

So I guess, is there anyone who has any expertise on teaching and discussion that will lend advice on how I should approach it? First official day we all meet is February 6th, so I have some time to find enough students to take my class and develop my ideas on how to do things. Any advice is appreciated!


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Re: Teaching advice? - January 14th 2018, 02:46 PM

I am working on teaching students math as well. To be very honest I don't have a perfect solution to that, but I can share a few things that I noticed during the teaching. (They are seccondary students, by the way)

I think its a good idea to start a class by asking them a general introduction to the topic. I am not familar with the topic you mentioned here, but the main point is to arouse interest from students by the question: What will they be expected to learn in this lecture? Provide them with question for them to ponder, even before the start of the class, or when waiting for late students. (Early students deserve more "food for thoughts"!)

By the way, I believe a good practice is to provide "incomplete handouts", such that attentive students will be able to copy what you are writing, without having you to slow down your pace to wait for them (which may happen if you do not provide handouts at all). Having everything fed to them isnt good either! Homeworks for them to work on (like reading assignments for the next lecture) after the class is optional, but I think it will help the students to at least prepare themselves mentally of what to expect from the next class, and trust me, its so much easier to teach with that! I understand that this is quite a lot of work behind the scenes, but this will definitely help you a lot during the real teaching!

In retrospect, I should have implement a class rule to my students, because not all of them are actually obedient (for my class). I am not sure with the background of your students in your class, but if they are college students I believe such an implementation is actually unnecessary. It really depends on the lecturer, which is you, whether you are okay with your students discusson the topics among themselves, or you want them to really follow the "teacher-students" type of protocol.

There is the good side of being free-er: Students are much more confortable and will not feel bored by your lecture, and they can learn on their on pace (if they think they had learned enough from your lecture, then they might help others beside them with discussions). But the downside is this can go into a uncontrollble chaos, if not handled properly.

My idea is to actually implement class rules from the first class, and if you find that they are good self-learners, then you can "loosen" the rules slowly, and you will realize the enviroment of teaching will be much confortable even without you realizing. Otherwise if the students really need some rules to control them, then feel free to use your authorization to make sure the class is still in control. You are the teacher, and its your responsibility to make sure students who are willing to learn will learn as much as they can, so make use of your authorization to acheive that!


Good luck with teaching! I can do this and I believe you can too

Ivan


Life can knock us down, but we can choose to stand up and fight. Never give up!

Why must you fight so badly? Because you dont want to be scared of life anymore!
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