Ground Rules and Expectations
Structure in the classroom begins with ground rules and expectations. Quoting Kent (2011):
- Let’s turn off digital devices and engage each other
- I expect rigor in oral and written work
- Papers are due on the day they are due
- Papers get evaluated meticulously
- Papers are handed back the next period
- Interviews for those with problematic work are mandatory
- At the end of each week, students get a short message summing up the week’s work and pointing out what we will be doing the next week (Kent, 2011, p. 137).
More Know Your Students
Volk (2011) recommends setting the tone of your course by letting students know that they are welcomed in your course:
- Read the roster out loud to yourself
- Sound out names that are unfamiliar and take note of stumbles
- Speaking the name helps attach them to faces
- A student who know she or he will be called on by name feels accountable to the instructor and the class
More Preparing the Class Session
Each class session demands preparation. Structure “comes about through thorough planning and organization” (Reed, 2002). Write out a plan for the time allotted that includes the material that needs to be covered, and what method you will use to cover it. For example, here are the headings for a chart, and a sample first line.
More Managing the Classroom
You are in the position of authority, which students have been trained to understand since they started school. There is an expectation as a result that students should be quiet and passive to listen to the “expert.” Yet to engage learners, there is a need for them to participate in concert with your direction. Maintaining order (authority) and managing interaction (ceding authority) are handled by:
More Fostering Learning Through Interaction
Adsit (2011) provides tips for lectures that are engaging, informative and participatory.
Audience Engagement and Interactivity
Audience attention wanes after 12-20 minutes. Design your class sessions with “activity breaks” to allow your students to process, review and apply the material that you present.
- Ask a question or pose a problem to be solved individually
- Have students work in pairs or trios on a problem or discuss a question
- Use a video or film clip to illustrate the topic
- Present a case study for discussion
More Using Visual Teaching for Learning
Images are everywhere: “Visual information fills the screens, pages, and spaces that surround us through the day. Research into human learning demonstrates the power of these visuals in shaping our understanding of the world. Not only do people process images more quickly than text, we tend to rely on our visual experience even when it contradicts our conceptual knowledge of a topic” (Hoffman, 1998, quoted by Little and Felten, 2010, p. 5).
More Fostering Class Discussion
Principles of good discussion (#35), as specified by Brookfield and Presskill (2007), are to be used under the following appropriate conditions:
- When multiple perspectives on content are possible
- When applications of content to real life settings are being considered
- When students already have grasped the essentials or basics of what is being discussed, the ‘grammar’ of the activity
- When there is a genuine openness about where the discussion might lead.