I started teaching from when I was very young and now I am a PhD student. I taught in informal settings and laboratory settings in India to freshman engineering classroom settings in VT. This is my fifth semester teaching in VT. My students’ ages ranged from 4 years to junior year students (pretty amazing). Every time I teach, I enjoy teaching, improving my teaching skills, discovering how each students differ in learning, overcoming challenges while teaching and facilitating learning of my students. I belief there is more to discover about myself as a teacher and more to explore in this field. Being in engineering education and learning about different learning theories, styles and strategies are also assisting me to grow as a teacher.
Among the strengths I might have in teaching, some I realized are effective, which I might not leave behind but improve on. As far I can recollect now, few of these strengths are: personalization, being energetic and enthusiastic and clear communication.
Personalization: This is easy in an informal setting, where I am interacting with my student face to face. However, it is not that easy in a classroom or big laboratory setting. I easily make rapport (knowing their name and interacting with them as much as possible helps to develop this) with my students and try to develop an ambience, where they can feel free in interrupt me and ask questions and proof me wrong. I pause between my lectures to check if they understood what I tried to teach. Then students engage in hand-on problems, where I answer questions and help them according to each one’s need. The best part I discovered here is that a student can be stuck at a point where you may not have anticipated and that’s where I think teachers can help them to come out of their misconception. I also talk to my students about situation where they can feel anxiety (like before exams or learning a software tool) and how I have overcome it. This helps my students to feel confident that they are not alone in the boat and they can talk about different strategies to overcome it.
Being energetic and enthusiastic: I learned about this skill from the University level GTA training in VT. In a classroom, if you are energetic and enthusiastic as a teacher and show students the purpose and context of a topic, students automatically will not be bored but will be energetic to learn (at-least most of them). If we as a teacher, show tiredness while teaching and show casualness in the small hand-on activities, we really portray to the students that they do not matter to us or these hand-on exercises are just to engage them in the class but may not improve their learning. So whatever may happen in our lives in the day of our teaching, if possible, we should not bring it to the classroom.
Clear Communication: By this I mean, both clear communication of expectations between teacher and students, and also clear and loud communication skill for teaching. The first one is important to help student realize the help that they might get from the class, while the second helps students to clearly understand the activities and learning happening in the class.
I do not want to make my blog lengthier. So! What do you think about these strengths in teaching? What are some of your strengths?