What it Takes to Teach
Co-teaching a U-Engage (freshman seminar) lecture this term has proved to be a challenging and eye-opening experience in a number of ways. It has also confirmed in my mind some of my strengths as an educator and the areas in which I need for experience and training.
The greatest challenge thus far has been trying to make a connection to 60 students at one time in a lecture setting. This challenge has been compacted by the fact that I have missed one class due to a family event and that one class included a guest speaker, who spoke for the majority of the class time. This coming week will feature another series of guest speakers, which should leave room for very little time for me and the other lecturers to interact/teach the students. There are several benefits to these guest speakers. For one, I am certain that the information our guests are providing is very valuable to incoming students and that they enjoy hearing from a variety of different people. It is also beneficial to me as a instructor (I don’t have to present as much info) and beneficial to the guest speakers who get to make connections with students and promote their office’s support and services. At the same time it cuts down on my teaching time and this is hard because I want to grow and learn from as many teaching experiences as possible. Based on the syllabus, it would seem as though there will be more opportunities to lead lectures towards the end of the term, which will be great, however I wonder if the guest speakers could be more spread out in order to provide more students-iinstructor time earlier in the term.
In an effort to redirect my energies I have taken on several behind the scenes tasks to help improve the class. I recognize that the peer leaders who facilitate the recitation sessions have more one-on-one time with students and therefore more influence. I have made it a point to respond quickly and accurately to any questions they have had and frequently check in with them to make sure things are going well. I have created scoring rubrics for two of our larger assignments and learned to post necessary items to Blackboard. I am in constant communication with my co-instructors and have collaborated with them to make several important decisions regarding classroom policies and procedures. I hope to communicate my experiences in such a way that the U-Engage course is easier to teach and more beneficial to take in the future.
Thus far the class has required several of my strengths: detail-oriented work, quick, effective decision making/problem solving, and thoughtful written communication of ideas. In the future I hope to work on some of my weaker areas: speaking/teaching in large groups, thoughtful verbal communication of ideas, and finding a balance between being an effective and entertaining instructor.