Dear Content Contributor,
This week, I will like us to reflect on a guide that can help us to improve on our teaching and learning activities. This guide was extracted from a book titled, "Teaching American Students - A Guide for International Faculty and Teaching Assistants in Colleges and Universities", written by Ellen Sarkisian. It is expected that more graduates are willing to join the teaching and learning profession yearly in Nigeria. However, there is the need to map out strategies to encourage them and to also let graduates know the challenges ahead of them and how to surmount them from a global point of view. As a new or an experienced lecturer, let us look at some likely issues discussed in the book and relate them with our own experiences in FUNAAB.
I. Starting Out: A Quick guide for Beginning Teachers.
New lecturers must be well-prepared for their first classes. They should know exactly what they are going to say and do (By preparing a plan of work for – i. Preparation, ii. delivery, iii. feedback and iv. a final word). Before their first classes, it is necessary for them to talk to someone who can give them good advice - a colleague or their mentor who has taught the subject before. They should build-up confidence and create a friendly atmosphere by introducing themselves to the students. Laugh together with students and start from there.
II. Assumptions that Affect Teaching in the Classroom
The Academic Background of Students: Most successful teachers begin their classes by trying to find out as much as possible about the background and abilities of their students. Have they taken pre-requisites course? We often overlook this aspect and it is necessary to refresh our students’ memories at the commencement of each semester based on the pre-requisite subjects.
Students Will Perform Better if they Know Exactly What is Expected of them. Students will learn more through active participation. For example: ask students to write a short paragraph on a particular topic and bring it to class, ask students to work out problems individually or in small groups. Teachers must ensure that all students have an equal chance to participate in class. Be polite and patient with your students. Never appear to criticize students with a sense of superiority, harshness or sarcasm. We can work it out and it is possible for a sizeable class and better strategies for large classes with technology.
The Relationship Between Lecturers and Students: Students like to feel noticed and appreciated but not pre-judged. Lecturers should try to learn the first names of students in their classes early in the semester and use them when teaching. Students want to feel that the lecturer is accessible and helpful. Lecturers should announce their office hours in writing and should be available to speak with students’ informally after lecture or through e-mails. All students must be treated according to the same standards.
Students do not want you to let others know about their academic performance or their private lives, lecturers should preserve students' privacy. It is possible to generate random numbers (codes) to represent each student’s matriculation numbers, which will be known only to the student and the lecturer only, to take care of the privacy issue if information like the assessment score, is to be pasted on the Departmental notice board.
III. Giving Presentations that Student Can Understand
The lecturers should write down words and use diagrams or pictures that can help students’ comprehension and note-taking. The most effective teachers provide a context before they begin teaching, linking the day’s material to the previous class or showing how it fits into a broader structure. They give specific examples as often as possible, to illustrate ideas and keep lines of communication open.
IV. Leading a Discussion: Providing Direction and Continuity
Because discussions are unpredictable, many teachers think they do not need to prepare. However, it is difficult for most people to lead a discussion effectively without carefully preparing ahead of time. Lecturers should ask questions that are genuinely interesting, relatively concrete with several possible answers or perspectives. It is good to ask questions at the beginning of discussions because it involve little risks on the part of the students. Lecturers should listen to their students and encourage them to express their opinions. However, the lecturers should endeavour to keep the discussion focused whenever the students’ comments look irrelevant.
I do hope that you found the discussion informative and highly educative?