Teaching undergraduates is so easy! *

* this is a lie.

I just completed my first week of teaching undergraduates in a small(ish) group setting. Two weekly labs are required as part of the lecture course, Information Science, that I am TAing this semester. After the initial moments of sheer panic in front of the first lab session with 50+ students, my nerves settled and I could make coherent (somewhat) sentences. I’m not sure if this is the normal undergrad student reaction to the first day of a class, but I received a lot of blank, uninterested stares. And I had cat memes in my powerpoints! Who are these people who can resist cat memes?? What I found surprising what how quickly my panic shifted to a general nervousness, which is a vast improvement from what I normally experience during presentations.

During this week of labs the bulk of the class session focused on group work. I can see the appeal of this type of classroom activity, although it annoyed me to no end as an undergrad. First, lecturing can be boring for both the instructor and students. Second, it does encourage collaboration and learning through social interaction. Third, it frees up the instructor to focus less on forcing the material down the throats and more on how well the students are understanding the material. I have a lot of ideas for this semester, which will either be fantastically successful or fail miserably. Or somewhere in the middle with students bored and uninterested in my meme filled presentations and activities.

What tips or advice would you give to a first time instructor? For any introverts out there, how long did it take for you to feel comfortable in front of your students (or does this ever really happen)? Any particularly wonderful or terrible experiences as an instructor?

Teaching Stuff for Future Reference

Would have been helpful to me on the first day!

Tips for New Teachers at a Community College

Best Practices in College Teaching

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4 thoughts on “Teaching undergraduates is so easy! *

  1. You will get used to being in front of the class- after the first few weeks it will begin to feel more like something you do. You got this! They are lucky to be hearing from you!

  2. As you know I only have a little more experience than you, but my tips: Be yourself. Borrow from other great teachers, but have your own philosophy and methods. Practice and experience will make you feel more comfortable and like you’re teaching better, and most likely actually teach better too 🙂 Remember that every student is different and learns a little differently (and, lets face it, some simply won’t learn very much because they’re that kind of “student.”) Add a hearty helping of good luck and you’ll be great, I’m sure 🙂

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