Blog 23

Three ways to make teaching more enjoyable, for you and your students

Celia Popovic

Celia Popovic, Teaching Commons

As the Director of the Teaching Commons it is my role to help to promote effective teaching and learning at York University. But also as a faculty member and Course Director I’m constantly on the look-out for good ideas that will improve my teaching practice. In this blog I suggest the three actions that in my experience can have the biggest impact on teaching practice.

  1. Take the ISW

The Instructional Skills Workshop is an intensive 3 day event, during which small groups share their teaching. Each day each person gives a 10 minute mini class, and is critiqued by the rest of the group. This may not sound much – but through my personal experience, and as a facilitator observing the effect on others, I can honestly say this has a profound effect on teachers, be they novice or highly experienced. This is so much the case that my colleague Mandy Frake-Mistak and John-Paul Foxe from Ryerson University are introducing this Canadian approach to the UK.

See Justin Podur’s blog for the TC on December 14thhttp://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/blog-14/

Go here for details of ISWs on offer at the Teaching Commons – http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/for-cds/workshops-and-courses-for-cds/courses/instructional-skills-workshop/

And here for a list of forthcoming workshops – http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/for-cds/workshops-and-courses-for-cds/courses/instructional-skills-workshop/upcoming-isw-workshops/

  1. Critique your course design

Are you teaching a course that you have been delivering for many years? Maybe you are about to design a course for the first time. Or perhaps you have designed and delivered many courses but are about to design a new one. In any situation I would encourage you to revisit the course looking at it through the eyes of a student who, by definition, is not yet familiar with the concepts the course is intended to cover. Think of this as a make-over for your teaching. If it is an existing course – reflect back on previous renditions, what worked well, what always seem to fall a little flat? If you are interested in finding out more about constructive alignment and Universal Course Design, consider attending a workshop at the TC, http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/for-cds/workshops-and-courses-for-cds/ and or reviewing the resources available http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/resources-2/ . You may be particularly interested in our new The sCoop guides which can be accessed here: http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/the-scoop/

  1. Talk to others about your teaching

Teaching can be a very lonely activity. This seems paradoxical given that teaching is also a social activity – after all one cannot teach without at least one student involved. However in practice many instructors work in isolation from their peers. They prepare their classes alone, deliver them to students and reflect on the sessions – but they rarely have the opportunity or encouragement to talk to other instructors, in particular about the nitty gritty of the practice. This may be fine for some, but I have found that when I share my thoughts, challenges and triumphs with others I gain further insights, encouragement and support. It is only through reading articles on teaching, listening to presentations at conferences and chatting with colleagues that I am able to improve. There are numerous ways to make these connections. Aside from your own networks you may wish to consider some of the opportunities available through the Teaching Commons:

TIF – Teaching in Focus annual teaching and learning conference: http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/tif-2016/

Workshops and Courses – http://teachingcommons.yorku.ca/for-cds/workshops-and-courses-for-cds/

And finally you may wish to get inspiration for ways to make teaching and learning fun – if so see this blog by Saga Briggs – http://www.opencolleges.edu.au/informed/features/refuse-to-be-a-boring-teacher/

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