Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lessons From Almost Two Decades of Teaching

I spent my second day of orientation at my new job.  Given that I have almost 20years of teaching experience and the reality that almost all of my classes will be grad seminars, I am pondering what I have learned since I started so many years ago.
  • I will always be surprised.  There was the idiot who thought he could do a rom-com by making a speech to his girlfriend in my 600 person class.  I was surprised when a student got a cell phone call, answered and then walked out of the class to continue the conservation. 
  • Which leads to the second lesson: I will never be perfect.  I will often wish I had something differently or anticipated a problem.
  • Only a few can please everyone (JJ).  The rest of us will get evals that present conflicting feedback.  "Your slides are too organized."  "Not organized enough." "Love the humor"  "Hate the jokes."  Have to consider the broader patterns and not obsesses about a comment, unless it is something like "he rocks the party that rocks the body."  
  • My first focus long ago was solely on being clear.  I did not attempt to be all that engaging, dynamic, silly, funny or whatever.  I just tried to deliver the content as clearly as I could.  I eventually relaxed.  Whether that is a good or bad thing depends on the student.  I did innovate by improving the incorporation of technology.  Youtube!  I over-did Youtube at first, and then dialed it back a bit.  
I think I have to re-set now back to my original position.  Why?  The challenge ahead of me: I have not taught a grad class in several years. That and I have not taught a class aimed at students seeking policy-oriented degrees.  Oops. 

I will let you know in a semester or two if I am managing.


Anonymous said...

Lean heavily on anecdotes from your time at the Pentagon. NPSIA students will love those. Guest speakers are also very popular or at least were during my time at NPSIA

Steve Saideman said...

Thanks. my students at my old job would say that the number one suggestion is not a problem at all ;)