Your First Teaching Experience

Friday 1:30pm-2:45pm Burge Union Forum C/D
Round Table Discussion


Cody Kirkpatrick, Indiana University-Bloomington
Whether as a teaching demonstration as part of a job interview or in a full-on course, your first experience as a teacher can be daunting. In this roundtable discussion, we will explore ways to prepare for this pivotal moment in your career. Guided by participant interest, our discussion will include topics such as making decisions about the content of a lesson; strategies for active learning in the classroom; and setting the tone in your first class meeting. Those who are or will be pursuing academic careers that include any amount of teaching are invited to attend.

Questions for Thought and Discussion

What do students expect of their instructors?

  1. "What Students Want: Characteristics of Effective Teachers from the Student's Perspective." Summary of a 2010 paper on how students define effective teaching.
  2. "New Faculty Orientation Features Advice from Students." Includes examples on ways you can "communicate expectations and engage with your students."
  3. A Google search of the phrase "Students' Perceptions of Effective Teaching in Higher Education" -- which is the name of the journal article mentioned above -- will give you many additional references with similar suggestions and conclusions.

The Teaching Demonstration

  1. Rule #1: Who is your audience?
  2. Is your demonstration a "guest lecture" in an actual, scheduled class? Or is it a special demonstration?
  3. Will you get a full class period (50 minutes, 75, whatever), or only an abbreviated amount of time?
  4. Nail down a topic. Be explicit. What background knowledge will your students have when you speak to them?
  5. You should be very direct (but polite!) in asking your host questions #2, #3, and #4.

Teaching Your First Class

  1. See Rule #1 above!
  2. What will be your goals for your students? How do you want them to be changed after taking your course?
  3. What if the course is outside your comfort zone? (Consider a great book called Teaching What You Don't Know)
  4. "How do you start learning how to teach?"

Book Recommendations

(Note: these are only my personal recommendations, and are not endorsed by NAGT, SERC, Carleton, or anyone else. Your mileage may vary!)

Level I: Get these now

  1. Small Teaching by James Lang
  2. McKeachie's Teaching Tips by Marilla Svinicki
  3. What the Best College Teachers Do by Ken Bain

Level II: Get these next

  1. Creating Significant Learning Experiences by Dee Fink
  2. Understanding by Design by Jay McTighe and Grant Wiggins
  3. Effective Grading by Barbara Walvoord

Level III: Get these eventually

  1. Engaging Ideas by John Bean
  2. Student Engagement Techniques by Elizabeth Barkley
  3. Flipped Learning by Robert Talbert