This insight is based on my own experience of teaching and training several learners in industry including engineers, scientists, business managers, post graduate/undergraduate business administration/technology students. Teaching is the oldest profession known in Ancient India; it is there from Maha Bharata and Ramayana Era in India. This profession is ever continuing and changing dimensions over the period of time. We have Takshashila and Nalanda kind of ancient institutions in India, where basically education, and Indian heritage and values are imbibed for generations in India. India has produced “0” (Zero) and Aryabhata to the world. Several foreign nationals came to India for education purpose way back in early centuries.
Despite having this kind of rich history of teaching in India; now the technology driven, business oriented, customer oriented, mobile oriented, agile learning, and instant solutions oriented aspects are changing the complete dimensions of education and teaching not only in India but also across the world.
To address these challenges, I though, I would contribute some of my experiential insights to address the current generation learners.
Best Practices of Teaching: Based on my experience of teaching to post graduate and undergraduate learners, following are the best practices of teaching:
- Remember every session/period has specific allotted time. May be around 1 (one) hour or 1 hour and 30 minutes;
- To utilize the given/allotted time, we need to plan the session.
- Jot out what you want to teach; may be on a notepad. Note down the Titles of major 3 to 4 topics to discuss in one session.
- After 3 to 4 major topic Titles are confirmed, Dig down each topic from references/articles or text book, whichever is your source of information.
- Write in detail about these 4 topics with Titles/heading in notepad.
- Prepare couple of times; one before 2 to 3 hours of the session time; another preparation just half an hour before the start of session.
- One entered into classroom, after wishing learners is over:
- Firth Thing: you need to do is Specify the Chapter Number, Chapter Name you are going to teach to the learners; best practice is to write it on whiteboard.
- Second Thing: write the “Topics of Discussion” for the session on whiteboard; these are nothing but the 3 to 4 topics Titles you entered in your notepad while preparation.
- Next, start with the 1st topic written on whiteboard; have detailed presentation on board;
- Next, You erase the 1st topic from whiteboard after learners have jotted down;
- Next, start with 2nd topic you have written on whiteboard; follow the previous two steps;
- Once couple of major topics are over/taught, reiterate what was learned so far in the classroom;
- Next, Continue and finish all the topics written on whiteboard;
- One figure/diagram indicates 1,000 words. Use as many diagrams as possible on whiteboard while teaching; you may use different colour markers.
- Just 7 minutes before closure of session, reiterate what is covered in the entire session by specifying the major topics you taught.
- Then Take attendance
- Wish students and leave the classroom;
If you are teaching a whole semester or complete year on the same subject/course to same students, you need to combine different approaches such as:
- Few days use Whiteboard with markers
- Few days (minimal) use PPTs
- Few days speak from Podium allotted to you.
- Occasionally go around the class; enquire whether they are learning/understanding; best is to ask them in their mother tongue for this.
One More Approach of Teaching: The current trend is usage of PPT. There is one famous saying:
“Power Point has No Power or No Point”
(… to be frank with you, really I don’t know who said this first)
Despite that, my advise would be use PPT for difficult topics; where you have less knowledge. Or it is difficult to represent on whiteboard or you got a better image/diagram which adds value to learners. Or the PPT has better value than what you can present. Then go ahead with PPT.
One word of caution is you should know the meaning of each topic what you are keeping on PPT slides. Otherwise remove it from that specific slide. One place where you have advantage with PPT is you can insert images such as models, structural diagrams, etc. in PPT. This may add value to learners.
Specifics to Training: in trainings, you need to follow different strategy. It is best practice to ask the learners as soon as you enter into the training room. “What you want to learn in this session?”. Some responses may come; because, this category of learners are working executives. They come with specific expectations to training program. It is best practice to note down on whiteboard all the participants’ expectations specific to the given topic in as per program schedule. Try to address each of the areas they asked for. If you do not know the answer to specific questions, follow the approach explained in next section. While concluding the session, tick mark all the topics you covered on whiteboard which were written down while agenda of the session was set. If you missed some topics give specific reasons for it. Remember. This builds trust in learners.
Some of Challenges in Teaching: following are some of the challenges in teaching:
- Ask students if they have any questions; and address the questions with specifics; If you don’t know the answer, if it is possible to search further in one or two days, convey the same thing that you will address it in one or two days. If you really do not know the answer; if it requires lot of learning from your end; or it is not your area; just say “I don’t know”. If you know someone in the same organization, direct them to meet the right person. If we don’t know and telling something confuses the learner.
- Confusion in learner leads to waste of time for learner, and it may lead to rework, poor conceptual clarity, and inappropriate foundation; not good in long run.
Remember that 20-60-20 formula is applicable. That is 20% of the learners really focus on the session; they want to learn more; these are top 20%. Next bottom 20%. They don’t care whatever you teach. Remaining 60% are average. Occasionally they learn; occasionally they switch off. On and off they pay attention. These are average learners in classroom. But try to get attention of everyone in classroom using different techniques. Even, I don’t know what those techniques are! Sometimes, I also won’t be able to get attention of everyone in classroom. It is a challenge for everyone.
Any way…………………..Best Wishes……..
Dr.Goparaju Purna Sudhakar