What I've learnt from a lecture today about teaching
3 things I should be aware of and shouldn't do
This story has nothing to do with the actual content that is covered in class. But instead, it is focusing on the teaching style and delivery methods.
This story is a note for myself and for anyone who teaches; to share on what I have experienced today, and on things that I should be aware of in future when it is my turn to teach.
In today’s lecture, the slides are flooded with mathematical equations. I know it is a post-grad level course, but if the purpose of teaching is for students to learn, then it should be spoken in the universal language, English, not mathematics.
We learnt to use our languages at a young age, whereas we learnt about mathematical equations (especially graduate-level ones) much later. Slides after slides of explanations using mathematical equations? Are we expecting others to understand?; ain’t gonna work that well.
Maybe sometimes we make things look difficult to make us looks smart? Maybe if we explain things using technical terms and bombastic words make us looks like we know our thing?
In teaching, the explanations can be done better with an illustration or just simply a sequence of text description explaining how each step works.
My lecturer assumes we know everything that was taught in class. I am not sure about the other students; for some parts, I was lost, for some parts, I regarded it as not necessary.
If I were to teach, I need to prepare content that is relevant to my class. My students may not understand why they need to know this topic; I need to tell them and show them, why this is good for them to know. Other than for the purpose to pass the exam.
I need to grab their attention, grab their interest; in order for them to be keen on learning. Knowing why it matters to them, help them absorb these content.
Ask for the sake of asking
My lecturer asked the class “any questions?” And answered right away, “no, good.”
And I see students in front of me, giving the “what?” hand gestures.
As a lecturer, do we have to care whether the students understand the content? Or are we just doing a job and pass the time?
As an inspiring researcher now, my turn to teach will come, and I want my class to understand. I have to set an environment that is safe for questions. I don’t have to rush through the content. I can ask for a show of hands to check their understanding.