Monday, June 7, 2010

IMU Learning Series 02 - Enthusiasm is Contagious...

Enthusiasm is contagious, but so is the lack of it.

When Zaid approached me to share my teaching experiences and thoughts on the e-Learning Blog, I was hesitant. With two (2) years of teaching experience under my belt, I’m not exactly an ‘old-hand’ at teaching. What can I possibly share that will benefit the person reading this blog?

It’s been commented that I’m rather enthusiastic when giving a lecture. When I’m enthusiastic about my teaching, my enthusiasm persuades the students that the learning session is worth their time. With persuasion comes action. When the subject matter grabs the students’ attention, it encourages them to think for themselves while exercising intellectual humility. Enthusiasm is contagious, but more dangerously so is the lack of it.

In my enthusiasm to inspire learning, I try to:

  • Keep my lectures real
    I feel that it is important for the student to see the relevance of the subject matter they seek to understand. To create relevance, we have to tie in textbook to real-life. For example, during a lecture on proteins I brought in a can of Diet Coke and started the lecture learning process by asking my students what connection they see between the canned beverage and my lecture. Proteins became intriguing.

  • Introduce some form of ‘theatrics’
    For lectures involving a dry subject matter I sometimes bring in a bit of drama. During a lengthy lecture series on human lactation, I brought the students’ attention to news about a lactating father who breastfed his infant. This bit of news made the students suddenly interested in the physiology of lactation.

  • Engage student participation
    During each first meeting with my students, I stress that there is no such thing as a stupid question during my watch. If there are no questions from the students, I will ask the questions. Once a student answers the question, the class indicate their agreement (or disagreement) with the given answer. Lucky students are then nominated to explain why they agreed, or disagreed with their classmate.

  • Include a commercial break
    Someone once told me that the human mind can only take so much of non-stop information after which it gets saturated. Once saturation sets in, minds start to wander. This is when I see a yawn here, a glazed look there and a private discussion at the back of the classroom. Depending on the length of my lecture slots, I try to introduce a form of commercial break in feasible intervals. Recharge sessions can come in the form of a 5-minute bathroom break, a video screening or even a group activity.

  • Stay motivated
    This motivation is for me. Having to teach the same subject matter over and over again, takes its toll. Having to lecture while other job responsibilities weigh heavily on my mind, takes its toll. I constantly source for motivational quotes and stories that keep me positive and enthusiastic about what I do.

That’s about all I have to say.

No comments: