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Teaching Large Classes

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Teaching Large Classes

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  1. Teaching Large Classes Rachel Fewster Department of Statistics

  2. What is a teacher? • A communicator

  3. What sort of communicator? Loudspeaker Broadcaster Artist Flight attendant

  4. What sort of communicator? Inanimate object Loudspeaker Messenger Broadcaster Artist Messenger Flight attendant

  5. What sort of communicator? Inanimate object Messenger Artist Messenger

  6. This communicator: • Discerns the essence of the subject • Distils the essence of the subject • Finds a balance between concept and detail • Recreates it in a form fit for everyone Artist

  7. This is water! That’s creativity! Impression – Sunrise, by Claude Monet (1872)

  8. Don’t aspire to be… Inanimate object Messenger with personality Messenger Or even…

  9. Teaching is a creative art A good teacher creates something all of their own

  10. A Subject for Everyone? Scenes of 19th century industrialism are really not my thing… - but I love this picture! How can I do for Mathematical Statistics what Monet has done for 19th century industrialism…?

  11. Why teach Statistics? • Understanding chance • Communicating concepts • Encouraging critical thinking • Doing something creative with my subject

  12. What the Stats 10x team did for me • In my first week of teaching, I learnt that: • Most students are not in the least like me • After 3 more weeks of teaching, I discovered: • Most students have no desire to be like me • After 12 weeks of teaching, I comprehended: • The Stats 10x team were reaching far more students than I would reach with my approach

  13. Me? or Them? Theorem Proof Theorem Proof Corollary Proof Example Motivation Example Bit of theory More example More theory Example Example Example

  14. How I learnt…

  15. How I teach

  16. Engage curiosity Use examples and diagrams Give history and personalities Build intuition

  17. Everything has got a moral, if only you can find it… • Listen to your colleagues • Listen to your students • Learning how to teach is a job we • never finish • It’s OK to teach very differently from the way you preferred to learn

  18. Ingredients for learning The Student Course Materials & Lecture Notes You

  19. Ingredients for learning The Student Course Materials & Lecture Notes You

  20. Ingredients for learning Enthusiasm! Understanding! Insight! 12 weeks later…

  21. Ingredients for learning Get a Degree The Student • Background knowledge • Aspirations • Career plans

  22. Performance or Perfection? Perfection Performance • Focuses on the learning process • Mistakes are opportunities • Embraces new tools and deep understanding • Focuses on OUTCOMES • Mistakes are disasters • Prefers to use familiar tools to solve problems

  23. Most students are performance-oriented in our field Most academics are perfection-oriented in our own fields Perfection Performance We can empathise! We are performance-oriented ourselves in other fields • Focuses on the learning process • Mistakes are opportunities • Embraces new tools and deep understanding • Focuses on OUTCOMES • Mistakes are disasters • Prefers to use familiar tools to solve problems

  24. Empathise with the student’s approach • Aim to make them WANT to switch modes Performance Perfection • Focuses on the learning process • Mistakes are opportunities • Embraces new tools and deep understanding • Focuses on OUTCOMES • Mistakes are disasters • Prefers to use familiar tools to solve problems

  25. Ingredients for learning The Student Course Materials & Lecture Notes You

  26. Course Materials & Lecture Notes Aim to build a landscape Course notes like a map • A • BLANK • PAGE

  27. Course Materials & Lecture Notes Aim to build a landscape Course notes like a map Ridges Saddle Essential features clear for everyone Lake

  28. Course Materials & Lecture Notes Aim to build a landscape Course notes like a map Ridges Saddle Lake Finer points there for the taking

  29. Don’t overdo content! Ridges Lake Saddle This is what you know and love This is most of what you will get across

  30. But if you try to put across all this…

  31. Ridges Lake Saddle This is better! …you’ll succeed in communicating this!

  32. Statisticians never gamble, but… Ridges Lake Saddle Design your course and assessment around these! • I’ll bet you will be SURPRISED at how far YOU have come since you first saw this material • Before the course, decide upon your lake! What are the key concepts you MUST get across?

  33. Begin with low-context example, to focus on the ideas

  34. Progress to more intriguing examples

  35. Pictures and colour do this best! Aim to stimulate CURIOSITY

  36. Ingredients for learning The Student Course Materials & Lecture Notes You

  37. Ingredients for learning Less content = more gain Don’t assume I’m the same as you! The Student Course Materials & Lecture Notes ? You

  38. What’s left for… You? Your job is to breathe life into the landscape!

  39. The Conceptual Landscape B ?? C A • Instinct for the material • Concepts spring to life • A beautiful / satisfying place to explore • Personality and character

  40. What’s left for… You? I don’t think you are my role model… • Learning is a social activity • We are social animals Please yourself!

  41. The importance of psychology My head is full of other stuff too! • The atmosphere of the classroom will be the take-home impression of the subject for many students • Aim for a critical mass of engaged students

  42. There must be something positive! + Creativity + Spontaneity + Elegance or liveliness Students will associate a positive vibe with the subject matter - even if by accident!

  43. The Really Boring Statistics Lecture Give us a cheer for… Raise the roof! Make those people next door think they are missing something! One, two, three…

  44. What engages students in class? • Humour • - most teachers avoid sarcasm • Your enthusiasm • - alternatively energy or liveliness • - material has to appear likeable! • Your engagement with the students • - be friendly and approachable • - learn names where possible

  45. What engages students in assignments? • Intrigue, curiosity, fun • can you spot a liar? • will I be able to catch you cheating? • does heavy metal music help your plants grow? • Usefulness to the student • - how many boy/girlfriends should you have before you settle for one you like? • Their progress • - now they can do something they couldn’t do before

  46. It’s all about them! • Students are most interested in themselves! • Usefulness to immediate lives is more compelling than usefulness to future (unknown) careers • Popular literature in your subject area is a good source of engaging material

  47. Conclusions: • Teaching is creative work in your subject area • - just like Research • Don’t assume that students are like you, • or that they should learn the way that you did

  48. Ridges Lake Saddle Conclusions: • Less content will often deliver more total gain • Your job is to give the material some personality • - must be a likeable personality!

  49. My Top Tips: • Be nice • Smile • Invest creativity into your teaching • Don’t take yourself too seriously