What's it like teaching for the first time?

posted
08-Jun-16, 16:18
Avatar for Teaddict
posted about 3 years ago
I have already been told that when I start my PhD in late September, I will be talking on teaching responsibilities in two modules (one in each semester). I have never had to teach (seminars) a class before so I was wondering what your experience of it was and if you had any advice?

(I have posted a number of posts on this forum and found your collective advice to be excellent).
posted
08-Jun-16, 16:37
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 3 years ago
I was really nervous the first time I had teaching, Teaddict, but it helped that I was teaching along with a member of staff and so had someone to chat to. Do you know yet what the set-up will be - how many students, what stage they're at, that kind of thing? Don't be thrown if you get a room full of 18-year olds staring blankly at you and saying nothing, as I have had - it's just what they sometimes do! I found that my confidence with teaching grew over time and it was something I enjoyed - I just try to throw a bit of humour in and 'be myself', and some groups of students engage better than others. Your uni might offer some teacher training to postgrads.
posted
08-Jun-16, 16:44
Avatar for Teaddict
posted about 3 years ago
Cheers for the fast response, as always, Chickpea :)

I know the content of the modules relatively well - not only did I do these two modules myself, but they overlap with my research interests quite strongly. I don't know how many students there will be, however, my understanding is that I'll be teaching first and second year students.

My University has teacher training as a compulsory requirement either in first or second year - I opted to do it in first year to get it over with. Don't need that interfering with my research in second year.
posted
08-Jun-16, 16:56
edited about 3 seconds later
Avatar for chickpea
posted about 3 years ago
Sounds like a good plan to do the teacher training early in the day. It'll help that you know your content really well - my best teaching experiences have been the ones where there was an overlap with my own research, rather than just helping out with someone's class. If you're teaching a large number, it sometimes helps to get them doing things in smaller groups so you can circulate and chat to them a bit - I found that it really helps to start getting to know the students a bit so they feel better about contributing in class.
posted
08-Jun-16, 17:00
edited about 8 seconds later
Avatar for Teaddict
posted about 3 years ago
Good idea. I have been reading up on some of this already, and certain things to encourage contributions, etc. I just wanted to get experiences and advice from other PhD candidates/students before I jump in.
posted
08-Jun-16, 17:25
edited about 18 seconds later
Avatar for TreeofLife
posted about 3 years ago
I've ran seminars but only with groups of 6-8 students. I think a bit of confidence and assertiveness goes a long way. Sometimes I found it hard to keep the conversation going in these small groups so I would make a list of subtopics to discuss before I went in (they were have supposed to have researched the main topic beforehand). Splitting them into groups is a good idea and I frequently did that, or got different groups to argue for and against a topic, or for each group to make a presentation about the topic and then question each other.

Definitely have training before if you can. There wasn't really anything provided at my uni.

I've also helped with biology practical classes but I think that's a bit different to what you will be doing.
posted
13-Jun-16, 22:49
edited about 2 seconds later
Avatar for butterfly20
posted about 3 years ago
Let your personality show and be enthusiastic. If you appear to be bored of the topic so will they! I don't know what subject you teach but I usually try to incorporate examples and relate things to the news and current affairs. A video clip doesn't hurt to keep their attention too!
posted
14-Jun-16, 08:45
edited about 17 seconds later
Avatar for Tudor_Queen
posted about 3 years ago
Every class is different. I was teaching 5 seminars each week (all the same content - what a bore), and each class always went so differently. I basically stuck to the plan but whereas one group were enthusiastic and participated, another would be quiet and you'd have to work really hard to get them to contribute. Then next week it might be the other way round. Videos work a treat. A sense of humour is good too, once you know them a bit. It's fun! My only advice is prepare well (e.g., activities and back up activity in case you finish too soon) and enjoy yourself. Everything else will fall into place.

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