4 teaching strategies for college instructors — context, optimism, preparation and engagement

by Julie Dodd

auditorium class

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.

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McKeachie’s Teaching Tips and mind mapping help us consider issues involved in developing a syllabus

A major focus of class today was discussing how McKeachie’s Teaching Tips can provide advice on and insights into planning an undergraduate course.

First the topic was discussed in small groups of three or four. Then we reconvened as a class, and I used mind mapping on the whiteboard to look at the many issues that relate to curriculum development and, in particular, to planning a syllabus.

After about 30 minutes, we’d covered the board with issues ranging from selecting a textbook to grading to determining what teaching methods would be most effective.

We also discussed  how developing a syllabus and creating lesson plans at the university level are similar to and different from teaching and planning in K-12 and how that can be different in other countries, as we have class members from Argentina, Egypt, Germany and Korea.

In addition to thinking about McKeachie’s tips and syllabus planning, I hope the class members considered how they could use mind mapping in their own teaching.

I took the photos with my iPhone. This larger photo is composed of three photos, using the AutoStitch Panorama app.