As I begin preparations for the Spring semester of Patterns of Patronage at the University of Delaware, I find myself continually coming back to the same question: how can I improve upon my first semester of teaching? And whenever I determine one of the many answers to this question, they often relate to fundraising and my consulting business.
First, there are many, many (many, many) ways that I could improve the way I teach, keep students engaged, and provide the most useful “real world” experience for them. But what it comes down to first and foremost, is setting the scene. Creating the mood for the class to draw attention away from everything else going on in the world. I found this article Small Change in Teaching: The first five minutes of class to be really helpful.
Opening with a question! Asking for students to write down answers about what they previously learned (in this class or another)! It’s so simple and yet so effective. When you think about it, these are ways to actively engage the students in participation in the here and now, setting the stage for discussion and dialogue.
This same thought process can be used in so many aspects our professional lives outside of academia. Think about meetings: next time you are leading the meeting, start with a question. Or ask everyone at the table to write down their answers (to be shared or not). You may be surprised at the attentive and thoughtful answers and how they will guide the remainder of your meeting.
How else could you utilize this advice?