Help Me Be A Better Teacher

As most of you probably know, I begin my teaching career tomorrow morning with my first class as an adjunct professor at Gardner-Webb University. I am both excited and a bit nervous. Over the years I have developed my own personal philosophy of teaching and higher education that has been influenced by all of the teachers, professors, and classroom experiences I have had (both good and bad), but right now I am curious about what you could add to that.

So, I want to ask you a few question, since you have all been in some sort of classroom setting at some point:

  1. What are the things that you’ve loved about a teacher/professor of yours?
  2. What are the things that you’ve hated about a teacher/professor of yours?
  3. What was/is your biggest motivation in a class?
  4. What other general advice do you have to offer this neophyte?

I look forward to reading your responses.


6 thoughts on “Help Me Be A Better Teacher

  1. 1. Without fail, all of my best profs have been ones who have taken a personal interest in me. They certainly kept education as their main goal, but they realized that the best means to reach that end was more than a few hours a week in a classroom. They were available for consultations and casual chats, and got to know both my abilities and interests. And in turn, knowing that they were interested in me as a student, and knew the level of work I was capable of doing, made me work harder as a student (this is hinting at 3).
    2. Hubris. There’s a distinct line between knowing a subject thoroughly and conveying that knowledge, and beating students with the fact that you’re far superior to them. I’ve seen the latter rear its ugly head a few times. Not good. Not good at all.
    3. A professor who knows me well enough to know what level of work I’m capable of doing, and not giving me any slack to get away with less. (I’ve got a good story about this from my undergrad days — I’ll tell you sometime.)
    4. Be confident. You got this. You’re going to make a great professor!

    1. Thank you, Amy. I can especially relate to #1. Having had experiences like that I hope to be able to give at least some of my students those type of experiences as well. Also, thanks for your confidence in me.

  2. 1. They like what they’re teaching and you can tell teaching & conversing about it excites them. They’re also just as willing to learn as they are to teach.

    2. Erroneous powerpoints. Since I did the homework, I don’t need the reading outlined on powerpoint and then read to me.

    1. Your points are well taken. I wonder, though, how you feel about covering material from the reading in class (since some if not most of the students probably haven’t read) for highlighting, expansion, and clarification purposes? Should the material covered while in the classroom have little overlap with the reading since some students, like you and myself, have almost always done the reading?

      1. Ideally, I think the classroom should somehow reflect the material, because reading is communal. Without some interaction with the text in community, the text isn’t read as well as it could be read.

        Maybe my earlier criticism is onto something. Maybe I just have some irrational grudge against powerpoint.

        Also, I really hope at least one of my students is in your class.

        1. I think you’re both moving in a good direction here. A discussion (which may or may not involve a powerpoint) that builds off of and expands from the assigned reading is always good. Thought-provoking questions that might arise from within the text – also an excellent starting ground. But mere recitation of facts I read a few days before? I’ve had chats with with people teaching MDiv classes about how ridiculous those lectures are.

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