Tuesday, September 16, 2014

what a difference a day makes

Last Friday, I had the (self-declared) worse class ever.  I had looked over the notes for the previous class from last fall and thought they looked a bit boring .  I decided that I would use the same format but integrate several active learning techniques throughout the instruction.  I was prepared to have some fun.

Wrong!  The class refused to participate and I mean refuse.  I would pause for 7 seconds.  I paused for 15 seconds.  I made eye contact with the students, cracked a couple of jokes about participating in library instruction and nothing.  I was done early.  I was flustered and I couldn't think of what else I should talk about as they were obviously not interested in learning about the library.

The next class that I taught was yesterday.  I was more prepared than Friday (for fear of repeating events) but I relied on the same format.  This class participated from the moment I walked into the class.  We were chatting before the professor arrived.  They answered my questions, contributed their own thoughts and we discussed the benefits of several different search methods.  I had fun!  Lots of fun!  This is the type of class that I excel at teaching.

So what did I learn?
  1. I need to have a more detailed conversation with the professors every year.  I need to ensure that the students have been given their research assignment in advance of my class.  Together, we need to discuss what are the learning outcomes for the class and share feedback from the previous year's class.
  2. I need to be a bit more assertive when asking for answers.  The Health Science folks pick people at random to answer questions.  I have never done this, but I need to start.
  3. I will start preparing a back up plans for situations when the students are not participating
  4. And finally, I think I will begin each class with the statement "I have two classes prepared.  One that will be delightful but requires you to participate.  You will learn a lot and will likely be very engaged in the materials that I have to share.  The other will be completely boring and will require nothing on your part."  Well, perhaps not that exactly - but something like that!

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