Short teaching activity leads to improved teaching for next teaching experience

One of Wilbert McKeachie’s excellent teaching tips is to provide students with low-risk assignments before they are to complete high-risk assignments. The example he gives is of writing papers. Assign a smaller paper that will have a low grade value before assigning a major paper that is a significant grade.

With the smaller assignment, students can try out the task and receive your assessment. The smaller assignment will make them less anxious, and they will have a better idea of what you expect as they write the bigger paper.

I have incorporated that concept in Mass Communication Teaching.

Everyone taught class for 10 minutes. They received feedback from their classmates, the clock, themselves and me. The next assignment — and a major course task — is to teach class for 45 minutes.

So what are some insights they have as they prepare for the high-stakes teaching experience?

Pacing – Part of effective classroom teaching is maximizing the class time but not going beyond the class period. They saw even 10 minutes can be a pacing challenge. Some were almost breathless, finishing their presentation with 3 minutes left. They’d gotten nervous and had talked faster than when they had rehearsed. Some arrived at their 10-minute time and had to quickly finish.

How many variables can you juggle – Some found PowerPoint as a helpful tool. Some found PowerPoint challenging to advance while teaching.

What is the best approach for notes to teach from? Some were reminded, as we discussed from Slide:ology, don’t teach by reading from the screen and not facing the class.

I hope the experience was a confidence boost and a learning exerience that will transfer to their next teaching.

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