Our Wednesday blog posts are a smattering of ideas from a wider variety of sources than we cover on the other days of the week. Today we consider starting a class. Is it the same as starting a conversation? Starting a relationship? What do first encounters and impressions accomplish?
The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator. Performed by Patrick N. Allitt. U.S.A.: The Teaching Company, 2010. DVD. Lecture 3, “Starting Out Right”
The first experiences with students in a course are very important. The teacher who is able to give a lively introduction rather than just rules and regulations sets the class up for success. Learning names and putting them with faces makes many students feel engaged. Having an opening assignment and knowing the first lecture with minimal notes is also very helpful. The teacher can tell stories about the subject, which helps grasp the imagination. Students who are curious will learn more.
It is also very important to show why the subject is useful to the students. Showing relationships with career advancement and with other topics is very helpful in this regard.
The good teacher also will give examples of how to solve problems, meanwhile showing expertise with the subject. This is also a very good time to illustrate the developments and changes in the field. Encouraging students in interaction from the start sets the stage for good learning.
The teacher also needs to make expectations clear from the start, both academically and interpersonally. The teacher is the head of the class, which is a special occasion and setting. Students should have a schedule of events but the explanation of that schedule should not dominate.
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