Teaching Strategies: Lecturing
The 200 students in the room are clattering about greeting the friends they haven't seen since last semester, trying to find their favorite pens at the bottoms of backpacks, trying to remember whether they've bought a spiral notebook for this class or whether to use the one they just used for their last class, wondering if their significant others really meant what they said last night. You are at the front of the room, about to introduce them to the subject that has held your interest through a decade of graduate school, poverty, travel, intellectual separation from loved ones. You are, in fact, about to introduce them to something you've been loving, planning for, grappling with, despising, rejecting, re-embracing for years. It is your field, your spouse, your child. They are still wondering about the location of their favorite pens, the movie they saw two nights ago.
By all means, organize your lecture carefully. Have the thing make sense. Be concise. But, perhaps most important, communicate the passion you have. If you REALLY want to be an inspirational teacher, show your students your passion.
Richard L. Weaver, who has taught at the University of Michigan and Indiana University, suggests usingthe A.I.D.A. formula for putting passion in your lectures: Attention, Interest, Desire, Action.
To grasp students' attention:
To maintain students' interest:
To communicate your desire for students to be as committed to their education as you are:
To inspire students to be as filled with action as you are:
Putting these suggestions into action does not guarantee that students will sit wide-eyed and breathless on the edges of their chairs, using all their restraint to raise their hands before asking questions, but it will help communicate your passion. And if your students understand your passion, they may just become impassioned themselves--keeping up with the reading, asking relevant and significant questions, visiting at your office hours to ask how to research a related issue, and maybe learning how to make the love of learning into the most helpful life tool they have.
Adapted from "Effective Lecturing Techniques: Alternatives to Classroom Boredom" by Richard L. Weaver in Teaching College: Collected Readings for the New Instructor. Ed. by Rose Ann Neff and Maryellen Weimer. Madison, WI: Magna Publications, 1990.