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1. How can I improve my teaching presentation skills?

New teachers can best be improved by: (1) receiving instruction in how to make presentations, (2) practice in making presentations, (3) receiving feedback on the quality of presentations from others who are experienced in presenting, and (4) reflective thinking.

2. What can I do to increase my confidence as a teacher?

Like most things in life you get better with practice, and in thinking about what you do. For most a few of regular teaching practice will lead to increased confidence in a new teacher. Careful preparation of class presentations and a thorough knowledge of the subject taught will help also. Besides these you might ask an experienced instructor to observe your teaching and give you comments.

3. How can I motivate students to pay attention in class?

Show your enthusiasm for the course from day one. If possible, use personal experience and stories in your tutorials or demonstrations to draw students’ attention and to connect with them. Find some ways to relate the subject area to the lives of your students. Real-life examples are always effective in explaining abstract concepts. You can also bring in current events or newspaper articles to elaborate your points. Getting students to do something or actively participate in some activities also maintains their interests and motivation. For example, invite them to think of examples or real-life cases where a theory/concept applies. The key is, try and vary the format of your teaching, preferably every 15-20 minutes (see also Getting your student engaged & Discussion-based tutorials)

4. How can I be sure that all students have understood the concepts I have taught?

While it is not realistic to expect that all students will, at all times, understand all the concepts you teach, it is quite easy to monitor generally how well the class understands. You can ask questions after explaining a key concept/theory/point, which require students to explain or illustrate. A quick “quiz”, a mini problem solving, or a one-minute “paper” at the end of the session, which that involves what students learned in that session, will also give you some idea of how well students understand.

5. What can I do to keep class discussions going and keep them from dying?

As part of any plan for a general class discussion, you are encouraged to consider preparing several follow-up questions. These can be used to maintain the flow of discussion. The best questions are ones for which answers require some amount of explanation. Avoid using questions that can be adequately answered in a word or two. For more details on questioning skills, please read “Questioning techniques”.

Also, make clear to the class the purposes of the discussion, for example, to develop students’ communication skills. For more on this go to “Preparing Students for Discussion” and “Focus, Direction.”

6. How can I inform very vocal students that they should give others time to talk?

When it happens that the same students are doing most, or all, of the talking, you may say, “I would like to hear from someone we haven’t heard from before.” And, if you can get the quieter and less active students to talk, after a few times, these students will often be more confident and better prepared to participate more. For more information on this check the section “Handling Non-participators/Students Who Talk Too Much.”

7. What should I do when students are late in submitting assignments?

Being able to keep to reasonable schedules should be considered part of the normal course process. So, policy regarding submission of assignments should be established and made clear to your students as early as in the first tutorial or demonstration. One example of such a policy would be requiring students to seek permission in advance for a late submission. This may involve filling in a form and stating the reason for the late submission. Failure to do this would result in a failing grade for the assignment. Then, what you need to do is to be consistent in implementing the policy.

8. If I don’t know what students know and what they don’t know how will I prepare to teach them?

While it is a basic rule in teaching that teaching presentations be aimed at a level where most students will understand, it is relatively easy for you, a new tutor or demonstrator, to gauge that level. A discussion with the lecturer whom you work with in the course should be helpful. Also, in the first class meeting, you can ask the class a few questions or conduct a short student survey about the subject. Using these methods by the end of the first or second class meeting you should have a clear picture of your students’ level of knowledge.

9. What can I do to maintain an interest in teaching when problems and frustrations occur?

A good standard of planning and practice in teaching should result in mostly positive experiences. However, problems and frustrations do sometimes occur. In such cases, you are encouraged to seek advice from colleagues with more teaching experiences.

Besides this, you would benefit from having a method or system for coping with problems. With this in mind, it is worth taking the view that difficulties in teaching mainly come in two basic types: those that require some form of action on the part of the teacher and those that do not. Difficulties requiring some form of action should be considered and dealt with using reflective thinking. Those that do not, if at all possible, should be forgotten before the next working day. As part of this, you should make a conscious effort to begin the new day in a positive frame of mind.