How do you create a personal and meaningful learning experience for your students?
My relatively short teaching experience leads me to believe that it’s important to let students know how much I care about their progress and performance. This is particularly important since I teach large classes, and the majority of meaningful interactions I have with students takes the form of one-on-one guidance during office hours. I try to make the most of these fleeting and infrequent teaching and learning opportunities by taking a few of the following steps.
I try to make drop-in visits more accessible, and less daunting, to students by holding my office hours in the "Econ Aid Room", a dedicated space where all TA’s and FSG leaders hold their office hours as well. After major assessments (such as a term tests), I explicitly encourage students to speak with me if they are struggling or are dissatisfied with their performance. I try to give students actionable advice and encourage them to follow up with me. When students voice concerns about course organization, I explain the underlying rationales and some of the constraints I face in balancing the needs of a wide range of students.
I try to maintain a sense of pragmatism when I interact with students – keeping in mind that my course is only one of the many important obligations they may have. While emphasizing the standard of learning I expect from them, I do my best to practice compassion for students who may be impacted by significant challenges. To that end, I ask students simple questions about their life in general; for instance, whether they are new to the city or the country, what other courses are they taking, and whether they know what courses they’d like to take next.
I believe that being thoughtful during one-on-one interactions with students builds mutual trust, raises students' expectations for themselves and from the course, and is therefore a crucial complement to the pedagogical tools we use to make our teaching more effective.
- Tenzin Yindok, Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Economics
I do this by bringing in stories from my adventures establishing and working in start-up biotechnology companies (i.e. the “real world”). I make connections between what I teach and that which lies beyond the doors of the University, which really seems to resonate with most students. I also keep my door open when in my office and welcome unannounced visits. In this way, students feel free and welcomed to contact me and communicate all things related to their learning experience.
-Paul Piunno, Associate Professor, Teaching Stream, Department of Chemical & Physical Sciences