I first started giving quizzes because so many students were always late. These students were distracting and somewhat frustrating. I also noticed that students were not doing the assigned reading, and if they were, only passively. As soon as I started using quizzes, students started coming on time and much better-prepared. These quizzes are given only during the first minutes of class time depends on various factors , and the questions are not released beforehand.
All students know is that it will be over current course material — questions do focus on broad information. Students will not do optional. Unfortunately, most students only do what is absolutely required, if even that. We offer students extra credit or opportunities to do a revision, yet few if any will take advantage of it. And then, any who actually do more, do not need it in terms of improving their grade. Two important teaching implications result: One, I always offer to accept revisions or to review drafts early or to hold extra office hours.
I used to worry that I would not have time, but so very few students take advantage of these opportunities that it always works out fine. Two, if you really want students to have a particular learning experience, make it required and an important part of the grade.
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Let students talk and be active every chance possible. Students remember far more of what they say than what I say.
These percentages fit my experience in the classroom. My goal in the classroom is to engage all of the senses as much as possible. In one example for a history class, instead of explaining to students why Indians were treated so poorly in the colonial period, ask students to call out reasons and explain them. They will almost always cover all of the reasons we could have in a lecture and usually they will think of more.
If they leave anything out, I will go over it at the end. In another example, sometimes when covering the Great Depression, I turn off most of the lights and play music from the '30s while they either make a political cartoon, skit, or something creative from the period.
Then everyone shares their mini project and contextualizes it. The last 10 minutes of class, I play the closing scene from the musical Gold Diggers of where they are singing "My Forgotten Man. Off-topic lessons are sometimes the best. Sometimes, a discussion veers off into things that are off-topic. These are O. But as I approach history as being anything and everything, including what happened a second ago, it is hard to be too off-topic in a history class.
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For example, this past spring semester on a day we were scheduled to discuss labor in the early s I think it was, at the beginning of class a student asked me if I watched football or something like that. I said no and explained why. One of the students said, "You do realize we have football players in here?
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In the end, it tied back to labor, class, gender, and race — all issues relevant to the regular lesson that day. Technology has many limitations. Plus it fails mechanically. I never did just read slides to classes, but I did use them to provide rough lecture outlines, pictures, videos, etc.
The Greatest Lesson From History You Probably Never Learned
I would spend hours preparing a given presentation to make sure all the images and text boxes were perfectly aligned the OCD side of me came out in full force! I found that even with this limited use of PowerPoint, students took far too few notes — partly because they did not really realize that they had to actually take lots of notes and partly because listening to me and watching the slides at the same time was too hard.
Now if I ever use PowerPoint, I only use it to show an image or show the spelling of a name or place. If at all possible, I provide handouts with the names and spellings. More and more often, I will have a folder for each class on my computer and manually open an image, song, or movie clip as needed to be displayed on the projector. For the most part, I also have nothing displaying on the screen if we are having a discussion or if I am lecturing. I saw cell use in the classroom as among the ultimate taboo. Instead of "demonizing" cell phones, make them a non-issue. Additionally, I will frequently ask students to look something up on their phone using Google when a question comes up.
Depending on the question, I will do this even if I know the answer because I want student to use resources available to them and to speak themselves. I also use my own cell phone as a classroom tool. I use it as a timer for the daily quiz. I also regularly have students make lists on the whiteboard or do other in-class projects. I use my phone to get pictures of these.
‘This I Believe’
I have found that not always standing creates a free and equal environment. This is particularly useful in smaller classes and during class discussions. This one is also necessary for me because I physically cannot stand for a three-hour class. I sit on top of a table in the front of the class, as needed. Students will disappoint, students will surprise, and grades are grades.
We love learning and studying and did everything we could to earn an "A" on everything. Many of our students are not this way. To many of them, a grade is a grade. This is not to say that there are not students who are devastated when they come to college and make their first grade ever that is below an "A. Others of them have other priorities, some are not ready for college, some have personal events come up, and some struggle more than we realize. On the other hand, there will be a few students who will make wonderful, sincere improvement over the course of a semester.
I love teaching.
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I love teaching more than I ever dreamed I would. Teaching and working with students is extremely challenging and rewarding. I love that I have the privilege and opportunity to teach other people. I respect that this is a great charge and honor. I take the responsibility seriously and carefully pick every part of every lesson and assignment as to have the best educational impact possible. I love thinking on my feet and leading a discussion with engaged students.
I truly love teaching beyond words. Andrew Joseph Pegoda is completing his Ph. He studies race, culture, human rights, and education. He blogs here and here. Be the first to know. Get our free daily newsletter. Advice to highly sensitive academics for avoiding burnout opinion. Mental health is low priority for community colleges.