Who’s working harder?
Check all the statements that apply to you:
___ I am exhausted after teaching.
___ I often lose my voice while teaching.
___ Teaching is like a stage performance.
___ Teaching is like an athletic event.
___ Students find me entertaining, but I am not sure they are learning.
___ My students yawn a lot.
If you checked more than a couple of boxes, you may want to re-examine who is doing most of the work in your classes. The harder you work, the less your students work, and students learn best when they are active.
Energetic, inspiring, entertaining teachers are a gift to a classroom. If you are lucky enough to be one of those teachers, you should always use those skills to present your material in a way that is memorable and that holds students’ attention. But be sure to also “get out of the way” so that your students have space to create, hypothesize, make mistakes and otherwise funnel their energy into producing something.
Here are few ideas to shift the workload from teacher to students:
- Do a quiz or practice activity (for material you have not yet covered) at the beginning of the lesson and see how students do. Tell them they don’t have all of the tools yet and that you expect them to make mistakes. Follow up with a “lecture” that you give in response to students’ questions.
- Insist that students start a critique. Save your own comments for last.
- Instead of lecturing, hand out notes with all of the information and a task that students have to complete, using that information.
- When a student asks for clarification, redirect the question and have another student answer.
- When sharing something that excites you, save your input until the students have had a chance to respond to the question: What do you notice about this work? Give them a chance to get excited first, then join in.
By shifting the workload, you are not abdicating your responsibilities to students. You are merely giving them space to take responsibility for their own learning and to internalize the knowledge and skills you are teaching.
Academy of Art University Faculty Development Team. (2009). Who’s Working Harder? Retrieved April 5, 2009, from Academy of Art Web site: http://faculty.academyart.edu/resources/view_tips.asp?UCID=1467