I have taught online classes and have worked as teaching assistant for four semesters and I’ll be teaching my first in-class course in Spring 2016 semester! I am really excited about it and I also start getting prepared for it this semester. This week’s reading is really helpful for my preparation and makes me think about my own teaching style and imagine myself teaching my own class.
I have given several guest lectures about different topics in aging, and my teaching supervisors have given me great feedback and suggestions about my teaching. I admit that discover my authentic teaching self has always been challenging.
At first, I was really concerned about teaching in English as English is my second language. I wasn’t confident enough about giving lectures or answering students’ questions, so before giving guest lectures, I practiced my lecture many many times, just like preparing for a conference paper presentation. However, after several guest lecture, I found that even though you need to be really fluent in English, teaching needs really more than that! It’s not really the language that I am using, it’s the content, teaching skill and techniques that matter the most. I also noticed that when I was passionate about the topic that I was teaching, I’d be less concerned about the language that I was using, and I could still explain issues and answer students’ questions clearly. Instead, if I wasn’t confident about the teaching content, then no matter how many times I practiced in English, I could still got stuck in certain points. So later on, I concerned less about speaking in English, instead I focused on the content and the materials that I’d be using during classes.
Once I gave a guest lecture about international aging issues, I realized that even though I was so passionate about the content and I knew it so well that I could talk about in very confidently, the students were not intrigued by my lecture. After the lecture, I talked with my supervisor who observed my lecture about my concerned, and he told me that my lecture was great, but I didn’t talked about how those issues could be connected with the students in my class. For instance, I talked about the aging population in China was huge, but obvious the the single statistical number did not really mean anything the students, so next time I added the number of older adults in the U.S. and compared that to the aging population in other countries, then the students had a better idea of those numbers. Later on, I also found that when I know my students better, I can use different ways to get them focused on the topic and have a better understanding of the issues that I want them to know.
I do think guest lectures are quite different from teaching the whole class. I’m still working on discovering my own teaching self, and I look forward to teaching my first own in-class course this coming semester!