A really incredible chance to try something new and exciting arose this fall. After the logistics and paperwork were sorted, and I officially decided to take the plunge
I (rather giddily) made this announcement on Twitter:
I’m taking on a third-year Population and Community Ecology class this winter. It’s a lecture-based course with a hearty focus on quantitative approaches, and I’ll have about 100 students (eek!) with very diverse scholastic backgrounds and strengths.
Those of you who have followed along here for a while know how I feel about teaching. It’s something I really love doing, and I have worked hard to find and create opportunities to improve and enhance my teaching skills throughout my grad studies, despite the fact that grad students are often discouraged to do so (the argument being that we should only focus on producing publications). While I recognize the importance of publications, I also want to come out of this program with a well-rounded skill set that will compliment my research activities and make me a more effective academic. Teaching is a standard and significant component of an academic career and for the life of me I’ve never been able to understand why grad students don’t receive more explicit mentoring and training in this area of their professional development. ANYways. [/rant]
Since I’m always up for learning about new approaches to teaching and classroom management, I tossed this request out to the Twitter community:
My tweeps didn’t let me down, and I was given some great tips to mull over. Some people pointed out that attitude, passion and performance play an important role:
Tips regarding question-and-answer periods had a recurring theme:
Others highlighted some practical aspects related to workload and time management:
This last point from Mitch started to ring very true as I began preparing some lectures:
And people shared their ideas about it:
The conversations I’ve had with experienced lecturers, both online and in person, have been really helpful. I wanted to share these tips with you all, in case there are other new or wannabe teachers out there.
I also want to throw out my original question to you readers: what are some of your tips? Is there anything you wish you’d known/been told? Something you’d do differently? Anything you think is really critical for first-time teachers to do (or, alternatively, to NOT do)? I’d love to learn from your experiences and hear your thoughts!
UPDATE (long overdue): Thanks for all the thoughtful comments, everybody! (Readers, they’re well worth the extra click!) I also finally published a Storify of tweeted teaching tips: