That was a take-away for me, too, as a presenter — as I planned what to share with the new TAs in my talk and also as I listened to the questions the TAs asked during my session and the other orientation sessions I attended.
I talked about developing a checklist of what needs to be accomplished before school starts next week, from meeting with their teaching supervisor to reviewing their online persona/avatar to the classroom where they will be teaching and try out the technology.
I also explained what I’ve coined as the COPE Strategies that can help teachers develop a more student-oriented approach to their teaching.
Rich Shumate (on far right) was my lecture assistant for Multimedia Writing. The photo is of the lab instructors for the course.
When Rich Shumate and I met for lunch to celebrate him joining the faculty at Western Kentucky University, one of our topics of conversation was teaching.
As my lecture assistant during his doctoral program, Rich and I had literally hundreds of conversations about teaching, as we planned classes, discussed individual student situations, developed assignments and exams for the 200+ students in Multimedia Writing, and worked with the lab instructors for the course.
Shumate: Always be prepared for class. Don’t just go in and wing it. Your teaching should be planned.
Dodd: Sometimes those who are new to teaching think about professors they had who seemed to spontaneous in their teaching and think that they can be spontaneous, too. But most of the discussions that seemed to be spur of the moment were created by the professor’s questions or objectives for that day’s class. Some really great teaching and learning can happen that isn’t planned in advance, but most good teaching – that leads to students accomplishing the goals of the course – is based on planning and preparation.
More than 400 new teaching assistants participate in the orientation each August, and I enjoy helping the TAs begin their teaching careers.
Some have had previous teaching experience, teaching in higher ed or K-12. Some have been guest speakers in a class. But for the majority of those attending the orientation, this is their first teaching experience.
My title of my presentation is “Your Syllabus and the First Week of Class.” I’ve just emailed my slides and handout to those assembling all the materials. The orientation will be on Aug. 15.
COPE Strategies can help teachers as they begin new academic year.
The start of the school year provides the opportunity for teachers and students to consider the big picture of teaching and learning before getting caught up in the week-by-week view of readings, quizzes and assignments.
Scott Newstok’s “How to Think Like Shakespeare” offers a call to action for the Class of 2020 (and for all college students) to take advantage of the learning enterprise to realize the value of gaining knowledge, to engage in critical thinking, and to seek collaborative environments.
Newstok’s essay, although directed at college students, provides a model for college teachers of how to take lofty student learning outcomes and design classes and assignments to enable students to reach those outcomes.
In speaking at the orientation for new teaching assistants at the University of Florida, I wanted to help those 350+ new instructors consider some big concepts that could help them develop their teaching outlook.
I talked with them about what I call the COPE Strategies to help develop a teaching approach.
William Hedderson – Applied Physiology & Kinesiology Will discussed two topics that I discussed and so did Carla and Michael — promoting active learning and learning students’ names. Teaching doesn’t mean that you need to be lecturing for the full time. Plan class to get students involved and talking with each other. After spending his first semester of teaching learning very few student names, Will made a real effort to learn names, and that made a big difference in his interaction with his students.
Carla Strickland-Hughes – Psychology Carla talked about how to organize a lecture or presentation, including providing the students an overview at the start of class to help them know their objectives for the class. Other tips included making presentation slides easy to read and helpful with large point size (at least 24 point), relevant images, and not too many words. She recommended building in student activities about every 15 minutes to keep the students engaged. Having a supplemental textbook provides you, as the instructor, additional examples to use in class.
Michael Polo – Music Michael told the story of how his teaching assignment was the one music area he had most disliked as a student himself — live singing. But he prepared to take on the challenge of teaching a course he had dreaded and wound up being very successful with his students. The take-away — You won’t always be assigned to classes that you enjoyed as a student, but you can become a very effective instructor … if you make the effort.
I presented a session to more than 400 graduate students who attended the New Teaching Assistant Orientation at the University of Florida. Photo by Bobbi Carpenter
by Julie Dodd
I encouraged the TAs to make the most of their time this week to prepare for the start on classes next wee. Photo by Keir Hamilton
Welcome to the new teaching assistants at the University of Florida. (And welcome to all of you who are new to teaching this semester.)
I appreciated the UF Graduate School and UF Teaching Center inviting me to be on the program for the UF TA Orientation — speaking on “A Positive Start to Your Teaching: Your Syllabus and the First Week of Classes.”
Thanks to the more than 400 teaching assistants in my session for their attention, their involvement, and their questions.
I hope the new TAs will take advantage of the optional sessions being offered:
“Teaching for Teaching in UF Classrooms” – Aug. 18, 10 a.m. to noon, Turlington L005
“International TAs in UF Classrooms” – Aug. 18, 2 to 4 p.m., Turlington L005