Things I’ve Learned by Watching my Professors

equations-006By Douglas Soder — Sometimes, I can’t help but feel bad for professors of education students.

At some point in education majors’ college careers, we start to become very observant of our teachers’ behaviors and teaching styles.  After having many classes focused on techniques and strategies for becoming better teachers, I now find myself overly vigilant and sometimes hypercritical of my professors. Every teacher is different, and styles and tactics vary, but sometimes I can’t help but feel like maybe professors should be required to take an undergrad education class or two.

Instead of becoming annoyed at these moments, I’ve decided to use them as a learning experience for myself as a future educator. Here are some things I’ve picked up by watching my professors:

  • Be Prepared—You’d think this would be a given, but we’ve all had that teacher who’s come in to class with a stack of disorganized papers, or emails the class an hour before class with a bunch of reminders and new material.
  • Use a Syllabus—Have a syllabus on the very first day that clearly states all assignments, exam dates, and other important information. If you do change something on the fly, remember to give your students ample time to adjust accordingly.
  • Provide Guidelines—When giving an assignment, give some kind of guidelines or prompt that students can reference to clarify questions about the assignment.
  • Use Technology Efficiently—One of my theatre professors actually uses social media sites like Facebook, Pinterest, and twitter as components in various assignments and projects in order to keep students’ interest and aid us in understanding certain concepts of lighting and stage design. These tools are interdisciplinary, and can be used in many ways. However, if you aren’t necessarily tech savvy, don’t be that teacher who’s taking 5 minutes out of class to figure out how to load a YouTube clip.
  • Don’t Waste Students’ Time—Now, this might not sound the way you think. Students deserve to come to class to learn, not sit and hear you repeat the readings from the assigned homework. Use the time you have with students to really dive in and discuss material, making sure that all of the students are grasping and understanding the concepts being taught.

Education majors may have the upper hand for the future, as we get to use our time throughout college to observe various teaching styles, not only throughout our field experience, but by watching and learning from our professors as well.

As the new school year starts to kick into full gear, I’m making it a goal to become more aware of the teaching techniques and styles I witness in my own education.  Every day, we are presented with opportunities to observe the effectiveness of multiple teaching methods, and I am using these opportunities as tools for molding me into the best educator I can be.

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