03 November 2015

Observe someone else

Part of the PGCert project is getting good ideas from colleagues. One way to achieve that is by having them observe your teaching and provide feedback on it; part of it can be you sit in on their lectures and get ideas from that. I decided to do a session like that; I picked a lady who is our only teaching-only lecturer,and I picked a session where she applied the "flipped classroom" concept. The idea is that you have the students teach each other and you yourself merely moderate. It takes advantage of the fact that teaching something is a very efficient way of learning it yourself, and it also trains the students' group-working (if the teaching is done in groups, which in this case it was) and presentation skills. Everybody wins!

While I had done my observed teaching in a rather awkward lecture theatre, me observing someone else was worse; the lady had one of those lecture theaters with windows that can't open. I taught there; it's awful, the oxygen runs out in minutes if you have tens of people in there. And when I walked in I noticed the oxygen had already been depleted by the attendees of the previous lecture. It was awful! And the feeble attempts of the air conditioning only produced noise, not a relief from the stifled atmosphere. Not an ideal venue for teaching teaching innovation But what can one do!

Group by group the students took to the stage. They gave really good presentations! And the bit they presented themselves they are likely to never forget. And what was taught by others probably stuck as well as if it had been taught by a lecturer! I thought it was a success. And of course there were blips; one group of students who accidentally presented the wrong material, some inaccuracies in explanations, some aspects of the material slightly glossed over, but Cara, the lecturer, set it all straight. When all groups had presented she got everybody involved again with an online quiz that didn't count for a mark but gave the students an idea on how much they had retained of the information. And then she set them free, back into the oxygen-containing world!

I was glad not all went well; if you want to do an exercise like that yourself one day it's good to know there are issues you should be ready for. But altogether I think it was a great session. Well worth trying out at some occasion! And on a more pragmatic note; this brought me one step closer to my teaching qualifications...

  Random pic of stuff you can do statistics on

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