August 17, 2022

Excellent Teachers And Their Habits

Teaching strategies are hit or miss, but these teaching strategies are tried and true and pretty easy to practice. They exemplify the teaching habits of an excellent teacher that are somewhat great tips for teaching college students.

They are based on Chickering’s and Gamson’s “Seven Principles for Good Practice in Undergraduate Education.” Whether you’re a college professor or a high school teacher, there are teaching strategies every college professor can work on as you reach your mid-semester stride.

  1. Encourage Student/Professor Contact

There is no doubt their students feel more comfortable interacting with professors who make an effort to care about their students. No matter what you do, it’s important to be approachable. It can be something as simple as opening your door during office hours instead of making students knock. So many students are already nervous to talk to professors one-on-one, and they will take any excuse we give them to walk by the office instead of coming in. Sometimes a conversation is all that a student needs to tap into their buried motivation and do well in a course.

  1. Encourage Student Teamwork

Deep learning takes place when it connects emotionally to an individual. Students are often more willing to open up and explore concepts within a small group discussion rather than the entire class. Carving out time for this, even in a large lecture class, is important. Structuring a debate is one effective way to encourage teamwork. In my composition course, I break students up into four groups and have each group represent a single point of view. This allows them to break out of the either/or mindset and research the nuances between each view and the overall topic. They work together and the sense of competition that stirs during the actual debate both unifies and energizes the team.

  1. Encourage Active Learning

One way to define education is “an enlightening experience.” This enlightenment in nearly impossible unless students take the knowledge presented to them and apply it to their lives. According to Chickering and Gamson, they must talk about what they are learning, write about it, relate it to past experiences, and apply it to their daily lives. 

  1. Provide Prompt Feedback

This is one of the most difficult aspects of teaching a writing composition course but probably the best possible teaching strategy we could implement. When composition courses are capped at 29 students and you teach two or more sections, providing prompt feedback is difficult. Nonetheless, the longer you wait to return an assignment, the less a student will care. 

  1. Emphasize Time on Task

This teaching strategy is a life strategy. In my experience, time management is not regularly taught at the college level, which is the number one reason students procrastinate. They don’t know how to budget their time and work smarter instead of harder. Helping students understand how to effectively manage their time starts with managing expectations for how long a task will take. 

  1. Communicate High Expectations

Expecting students to perform well becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy when teachers and institutions hold high expectations of themselves and make extra efforts.” One of my colleagues will never use the word “rhetoric” when teaching persuasive writing because he claims students just don’t get it and their eyes glaze over when they hear that word. It’s our job as professors to explain difficult concepts in a way students will understand, but if we expect them to fail, they absolutely will.

  1. Respect Diverse Talents and Learning Styles

Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences helps teachers begin to understand their classroom is a melting pot of unique minds. There is usually a dominant intelligence, and it is helpful for students to know this about themselves because it allows them to take initiative in understanding the information presented in a way that best suits them.

Adeyinka Meduoye

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