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Questions that have been asked so far:
I've just started teaching for the first time and, physically, it's been terrible. I've been experiencing nausea, dizziness, plus nightmares! I wasn't expecting teaching to have such an effect on my feelings and I'm wondering what you could advise me to do?
It is really important to remember stress and physical strain are a normal part of the teaching experience. Nervousness and anxiety can threaten to sabotage our best intentions and seem to prevent us from being the professor we imagine ourselves to be: in fact, they are part of a very useful reaction that most diligent teachers experience to some degree. Here are a few recommendations for dealing with the symptoms you describe:
Nausea & dizziness: breathe as slowly & deeply as possible when you feel this. Take a few moments before you leave your office, in the elevator or as you approach the classroom, to breathe calmly and focus on the walls or images around you. Try to avoid eating anything up to one hour before you teach.
Nightmares: many teachers have these when they begin teaching. Even the experienced ones still experience a sleepless night before meeting a new class. There's not much to be done, although a cup of chamomile tea before sleeping might help. Give yourself an hour or two to wind down before going to bed; listen to some relaxing music. Take care of yourself. Be kind.
Apart from all this, I can assure you that many of the feelings you are having will mellow over time; I hope you have already experienced this over your first few classes. Good luck with all your teaching to come.
I am lecturing to a large group in a big classroom. I find my voice carries fine, but constantly get the feeling that I’m speaking too fast. I find with that with 60 slides to get through in one class, I can't take little walks from my podium, which I've been advised is a good idea to do, without looking like I'm really agitated. So I stay in the same place, but sometimes I feel that I’m gesticulating wildly in a way that is almost out-of-control.
It is easy to fall into the trap of speaking too quickly when one is nervous. Set yourself the challenge of speaking as slowly as you can bear to, especially at the outset of a lesson. Take in a good, full breath at the end of every sentence. Take two good breaths at the end of each paragraph. This may feel impossibly slow to you, but for your students it will be a steady pace of speaking which allows them to hear and process all that you say. Try to offer concise, considered explanations of key ideas, rather than explaining every possible angle and idea relating to every point you make.
Instead of staying fixed to podium, condiser changing positions every 10 to 15 slides. Providing moments of silence and contemplation during a lecture can enable your students to reflect, perfect their notes, form lateral connections and formulate questions; all of which I'm sure you would like them to be doing.
As far as your wild gesticulations: big gestures can be useful, especially when teaching large groups. If you feel they really are too wild, try letting your arms know that they can relax whenever you catch them becoming too active. Do try to avoid are repetitive or mechanical gestures, which can become hypnotic and prevent your audience from giving you their full attention.
Some teachers find themselves holding on to various parts of themselves (elbows, ribs, hips – or diving their hands deep into their pockets). If you feel that your impulses to do this are getting the better of you, try swallowing or breathing or taking a sip of water instead.
I've just taught the first lecture of a new course and I'm really mad at myself. I didn't gauge the level properly and ended up talking WAY over the students' heads. I feel like I covered too much information too soon, and I've short-circuited their learning curve for the rest of the course. I'm really frustrated, and I suppose my real concern now is how to go over last week's lecture again without sounding patronizing or angry. Can you help?
It's ok. This was a small miscalculation, not the end of your teaching career. You might want to treat this as a 'bar setting' lecture: tell them that you've covered some of the really interesting, but difficult and complex, points, and now you'll enable them to fill in the gaps in order to help them to understand these things - eventually.
You might want to make your 'go over' session a little interactive: tell the class that you threw a lot of ideas, information and concepts at them last week, and that you want to find out which parts they have retained, or which have caught their interest. Ask them to call out to you what they remember while you write their points up, or you could divide them into 'cell' discussion groups and ask each group to 'bullet point' what they retained and what questions they have, relating to different areas of your lecture (depending upon how many students you have.) If you do this, you can help them by dividing up the groups, distributing the topics and giving them adequate time to discuss (and give them at least two minutes notice before winding up the discussions). You won't sound patronizing or angry if you are genuinely interested in what they did or didn't learn. Their feedback will give you a clear idea of what they latched on to, and where you need to repeat, enlarge or simplify. (And whether you were way above their heads, or just a few inches...)
This kind of format can feel risky in a lecture, but students really appreciate speaking to each other (they learn well this way, and they enjoy getting to know one another, and they function better as a group if they are able to establish small links with each other) and it gives you time out; it also breaks up the 'modality' of you talking at them all the time.
As far as being mad at yourself, here is a very un-scientific theory:- for some conscientious people there is a one-to-one self-inflicted agony to excellence involved in teaching, because it's so important to them. It may be that you are still fairly new to teaching. Over time you'll discover that you can ease up on the masochism & overwhelming fear and open yourself to the pleasure and rewards of, and to growing confidence and self-esteem around, your teaching... but you won't necessarily 'get' this until you experience it for yourself. Some learning just takes time. You have a whole semester to expand upon your first lecture: enjoy it!
There are strategies you can use to reduce cheating in your classes. While you can be creative in your approaches (such as increasing the distance between desks during tests), the best approach is to make students aware that you are vigilant. A simple warning about the significance and impact of cheating before an exam can cut cheating by 12%.
Try reading this article for more in-depth discussion of the issue:
Moodle is an e-learning system, more specifically it is a Course Management System which stands for Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment that enables you to create and manage a course website for:
How you choose to use these tools in your teaching is entirely up to you; your course website will be as individual as you, your subject, your teaching, and your class. Moodle is an open source community system. This basically means that it isn't owned by a company, but is developed and improved by some of those who use it. And it's free. Want more information? Try the wikipedia entry for Moodle. Jargon is abundant, and varied - seemingly arbitrarily. Other terms for the same thing include: LMS (Learning Management System), CMS (Course Management System), and VLE (Virtual Learning Environment).
If you want help with the pedagogical aspects of using Moodle, or any other course website, the Centre can help you in a number of ways:
You can also arrange an appointment with an advisor to discuss your results. Contact Olivia Rovinescu for more information.