Teach me to teach
January 24, 2014 11:24 AM Subscribe
Lately, I've been teaching a lot of semi-formal training classes at work. I haven't had much experience with this kind of thing, and I'm looking for tips.
posted by escape from the potato planet to Education (10 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
The topics are generally technical, at an introductory level, for an audience without a ton of prior technical experience. Group size is anywhere from four to twelve. For example, my latest thing is a weekly one-hour class to teach beginner-level HTML and CSS to four people.
Any general advice or recommended reading for novice instructors is welcome, but I'm wondering about a few things in particular:
1. The role of notes: I tend to write up a couple of pages of fairly detailed notes for myself before the class, and then follow those notes pretty closely. This way, I can be sure that I'm touching on all the points I want to, and that I'm introducing concepts in a sensible order (with each new idea building on established ones).
Sometimes, though, I feel like I'm spending too much time with my nose in my notes, and that I'm losing the students' interest because of it. Obviously, if I were presenting the same material multiple times (or had more time to rehearse), there would be less need to rely on notes—but that's not the situation I'm in. Any ideas for addressing this?
2. Off-topic questions: I encourage students to ask questions, but sometimes they ask things that would be better addressed later down the road, or which would take us too far off-course to get into at present. What's the best way to handle these questions? Give a brief summary answer in general terms, with a promise that we'll explore them more fully later?
3. Finding the right balance between "me talking" and "them doing stuff". I don't want to just drone on forever, so I'm trying to punctuate the HTML class with little hands-on exercises that let them apply some of the stuff I've just taught. Is there any general rule about the rhythm and balance of this, or does it really just depend on the students?