Some thoughts on teaching

For the last two and a half months, I have been busy with teaching duties in three different courses. I have been responsible for workshops in oral (presentation) and written communication (reports). It was the first time that I had to do a lecture in front of the students and it was, of course, a nerve-wracking experience. I am usually quite comfortable talking in front of an audience but this time I was not that familiar with the material I presented. I had been given the slides by my supervisor and so I was not quite sure about what she wanted to communicate with each slide. At the first presentation, I was so nervous that I spoke way too quickly and wrapped up the presentation in less than 20 minutes. Anyway, the rest of the presentations turned out well (for the most part) and now that I am familiar with the material, next year’s lecture will be even better. However, I still need to make the slides “my own” by thoroughly thinking about what it is I want to communicate with the students.

Teaching students is a rewarding activity but also very difficult. I am sure that teaching will get easier with time and experience, this was after all my first time teaching this particular part of the course. It is easy to be hard on oneself when criticisms are brought forward by the students. Then again, how else do you learn?

In all three courses I was teaching we had an online forum where the students could post their questions anonymously if they wanted to. This turned out to be an interesting and quite sad experience. The possibility to post questions anonymously made some of the students rather mean. Somehow they thought that if they did not have to reveal their identity they could write whatever insulting and disrespectful things they want. I find it too bad that the rude atmosphere in the online forum might stop us from using it in the future. You have got to own your words just as much as your actions.

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