Preparing your environment
Before your teaching takes place it may be useful to consider / do the following to ensure the environment is appropriate and prepared:
Checklist: preparing the teaching environment
- Confirm the room booking.
- Are there enough computers / seats for students?
- Visit the lecture theatre / IT room to familiarise yourself with the layout of your environment.
- How does the equipment in the lecture theatre / IT room work? E.g. presenter computer, projector, volume control for videos.
- Do the computers / laptops have the necessary software installed / updated?
- Are you using handouts? If so, are handouts / feedback forms printed?
Now that you’ve dealt with your environment, can you anticipate what else could go wrong?
Latecomers: minimise disruption by not repeating what you have already said. If you are introducing an exercise, continue with this with the main cohort and help the latecomer afterwards. You can speak to the latecomer after the session and, if they have a genuine reason for being late, offer another time when you can help them catch up.
Disruptive learners: sometimes learners can be distracted from your teaching by browsing the internet or chatting to other learners. Make a friendly but firm remark to divert a distracted student back to the task in hand. It’s best to avoid a confrontation in front of the group; focus attention on a demonstration or ensure that students fully engage in discussion activities by asking them to switch off their computer screens. If all else fails, you could remind the student that you are there to help them with their studies but they are free to leave at any time!
Liaising prior to teaching: For certain sessions you might want to contact students to let them know what you will be teaching, ask them to complete questions before attending, ask them to come along with their research questions prepared or ask students to bring laptops that are wifi enabled. You could do this by sending an email to students prior to teaching; contact School administration who should be able to send an email to the cohort. If you have access to the module in Learning Central you could also create an announcement where applicable. However, don’t necessarily rely on students having seen their emails / completed the task. Prepare for all scenarios.
Lessons don’t always run as you would wish; try to remain calm, explain to your students what has happened, and adapt your session accordingly or as a last resort re-schedule it.
In the next chapter we look at evaluating your teaching.