Teaching

Teaching tips

  • Be the first to arrive. Hover outside if the room is being used. This will encourage the previous teacher to finish on time.
  • Start on time. If you start on time, students will learn to be on time.
  • Spend a couple of minutes introducing aims for the class. Put this information on the whiteboard for students who arrive late and as a reminder for everyone in the class. If it is your first class, take some time to introduce yourself as well.
  • Try to learn and use the students' names. This will build rapport and contribute to a positive classroom environment.
  • Try to stay to your plan, but don't be too rigid—don't let a fruitful discussion/idea disappear without exploring it.
  • Start with a short summary of previous lectures and previous tutorials. This will contextualise your topic aims.
  • Generally it is good practice to give students think time. This will help 'warm up' their brains and build their confidence so they will be more willing to participate. An example of this is "think, pair, share".
  • When students are working alone, in pairs or in groups, make sure you walk around the classroom so they can ask questions. Try to avoid getting caught up with one group. If you find yourself being monopolised by interesting questions, ask the group to consider sharing their ideas/questions with the class.
  • Check back to your teaching plan at regular intervals during the class.
  • When you are wrapping up your activities, ask students for any remaining questions, reiterate the main aims of the class, give homework, talk about next lecture and point to how today's topics link to the course assessment.

Teaching FAQs

  1. There is a really disruptive group of students. What should I do?
  2. The class is quiet. I’m not sure whether they are bored. What can I do to recapture their interest? How can I encourage them to participate?
  3. My class gets unruly and I really struggle re-capturing their attention.
  4. I’m only a few years older than some of my students. How do I get them to respect me?
  5. The students are emailing me all the time. How do I manage their demands with my own study and workload?
  6. I’m trying to get around to all the students in the class, but I seem to spend all my time with one student. How can I better manage this?
  7. I have some concerns about one or two of my students. What should I do?
  8. I feel attracted to one of my students and/or one of my students seems attracted to me. Where can I go for advice?
  9. Many of my students are from my home country and they expect a lot from me. How can I manage this?
  10. How do I tailor my teaching to the different learning styles of students in my class?

1. There is a really disruptive group of students. What should I do?

Bored?

  • Offer some more challenging problems.
  • Advanced students sometimes thrive when given the challenge of explaining complex material to students who don’t quite understand the concepts yet.

Acting out?

  • Speak to them privately at the end of the class. Remind students about the effects of their behaviour and they have the choice not to attend class.
  • Speak to the Course Coordinator and ask him/her to stop by, observe what is happening and, if necessary, speak to them at the end of the class.

2. The class is quiet. I'm not sure whether they are bored. What can I do to recapture their interest? How can I encourage them to participate?

There are a number of reasons why students are quiet. They may be bored or do not understand the material or there may be cultural reasons.

  • Have a short quiz which reviews recent work. This can energise a class.
  • They may need more 'think time'. It helps to put key concepts on the board as a visual stimulus.
  • Get them to work in pairs or small groups. Students are sometimes reluctant to talk in front of a group (especially if it is a new class), so asking them to share their ideas with a partner or small group can help.
  • Many students respond really well to practical, real world examples. Try to incorporate these into your worked examples or problems.

3. My class gets unruly and I really struggle re-capturing their attention.

  • Avoid shouting over them. This just increases the noise level. Try standing still and silent.
  • Use non-verbal cues to signal that you would like their attention e.g. walk to the back of the room and sit down, try and make eye contact with people throughout the room, start putting important information on the board.

4. I'm only a few years older than some of my students. How do I get them to respect me?

  • Age is more often an issue for the tutor than the student as respect comes not from age but from demonstrated knowledge and experience.
  • Be as prepared as possible for your classes.
  • Be honest about your background and knowledge. Maturity and good teaching are not linked to age.

5. The students are emailing me all the time. How do I manage their demands with my own study and workload?

  • Be proactive and realistic about setting limits about student contact e.g. tell students that you will to respond to emails on Tuesday and Thursday between 2 and 4pm.
  • If you are finding that you are receiving a lot of questions on the same topic, consider sending out a group email which answers some FAQs.
  • Encourage students to use the blog function of the Learning Hub, but this must be monitored closely.
  • Student Services and Open Program run classes on developing time management skills.

6. I'm trying to get around to all the students in the class, but I seem to spend all my time with one student. How can I better manage this?

  • Try moving around the class in a different way e.g. start at the back or the middle instead of moving to the front rows first.
  • Politely tell the student you must move on to answer other people's questions when you feel you have spent adequate time with them.
  • If more than one or two groups/students have the same problem, bring the class back to you and just give one explanation.
  • If you have given a thorough explanation to one group, consider breaking this group up and sending them around the other groups to share the answer. (It is important to monitor this closely. You want to avoid the spreading of misinformation.)
  • Offer to stay behind after class or encourage students to use your consultation times.

7. I have some concerns about one or two of my students. What should I do?

  • Talk to your Course Coordinator about your concerns.
  • Speak to the dedicated Teaching and Learning Advisor (if your School has this service).
  • Recommend many of the support services available to RMIT students such as MAPP, the Counselling Service, the Disability Liaison Unit and the Study and Learning Centre.
  • Discretion is important. Some situations can be made significantly worse if a student feel he/she is being gossiped about.

8. I feel attracted to one of my students and/or one of my students seems attracted to me. Where can I go for advice?

  • The Counselling Service has expertise in dealing with all aspects of human dynamics in an educational setting.
  • RMIT Code of Conduct policy states that it is inappropriate and unacceptable for anyone in a teaching position to have any form of personal relationship with their students. This does not mean you should not be friendly, but set clear, and appropriate, boundaries when engaging with students.

9. Many of my students are from my home country and they expect a lot from me. How can I manage this?

This can be a difficult problem to manage. You should try to:

  • Seek out a senior colleague (maybe from a similar cultural background) and ask their advice.
  • Some Schools have International Student Advisors who can offer some help and support.

10. How do I tailor my teaching to the different learning styles of students in my class?

This is a great opportunity to develop different teaching skills and new teaching methods.

  • Vary your methods of delivery. Try to do something different each lesson: use visual images where you might have lectured; get students to work in groups where they might have worked alone; use role-plays instead of long written answers.
  • Use your students as a resource; many will have relevant experience which can add to the richness of your lessons.