Difficult Teaching Situations


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Questions and answers from a workshop on how to cope in difficult teaching situations

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Difficult Teaching Situations

  1. 1. Difficult teaching situations: workshop summary<br />
  2. 2. How do you deal with students who arrive late - up to half way through a session?<br /> <br />We said:<br /> <br />Focus should always be on those who were in the room on time<br />Response depends on the audience and also how late the student is<br />If &lt;10 mins may be possible to recap<br />If it is a workshop which students have booked for, when confirming registration, explain to students that the session will be starting at a specific time and they are expected to be there by then<br />If necessary, tell them it is too late to come in (disagreement about this) or suggest they come to an alternative session<br />If not too disruptive, allow them to come in but to sit at the back and wait for handouts etc until a natural break.<br />Do students get credit for attending? If so, cut off time should be clearly defined.<br />
  3. 3. What techniques do you use to engage undergraduates with IL activities?<br /> <br />We said:<br />Playing very short, humorous, “old” (in their eyes!) video clips really engages attention<br />Give students problems to solve (maybe in a fairly unstructured way) is a good way of getting them interested<br />Plan teaching around student responses eg put numbers under seats so they know they will have to contribute<br />Use small groups with summary to larger group<br />Develop Q&A techniques which work with different learning styles<br />Give them opportunities to chat<br />Personalise it by showing you are not just a “teacher” - use your own passions for demos etc (chocolate, guinea pigs etc)<br />
  4. 4. What do you do if there are international students in a session who appear, due to language problems, to have no comprehension of what they are being taught or asked to do. <br />We said:<br />Make sure you know about the composition of the group in advance ( not always easy for library workshops)<br />Discuss and clarify key terms at the beginning of the session<br />Link the above to a handout/ glossary of unusual terms<br />Have tasks written down so that those who cannot understand what you are saying (too fast/accents) might be able to follow the text version<br />Use visual, closed tasks, but is this as effective<br />Put students into small, mixed ability groups where stronger students can guide the weaker<br />
  5. 5. How do you deal with someone who thinks they know more than you and keeps interrupting to tell you things (which may or may not be correct and you may not be sure)<br /> <br />We said:<br />Let them speak…up to a point<br />Invite them to carry on the conversation afterwards (with anyone interested)<br />Ask people to write down comments/ questions rather than interrupting you and deal with them at the end<br />Ask rest of group what they want to do (if you’re confident they agree with you)<br />In extremis, have a quiet word during a break.<br />Show that you value their contribution by asking them to send you full details afterwards and promising to circulate this information to the rest of the group (giving you time to check accuracy)<br />
  6. 6. How do you ask questions which people want to answer (rather than watching tumbleweed blow across the room)?<br />We said:<br />Use SRS handsets – these add an element of fun, allow you to save data and mean responses can be anonymous<br />Start with closed questions, then develop…<br />Break into groups, or pairs in a large group, observe the group dynamics and then ask pairs who seem to have something to say to report back<br />Ask them to write an answer down and swap with neighbour, neighbour reads out responses<br />Use technology such as Twitter or mobile phones for instant feedback – again seen as fun, easy to participate, can be anonymous. ( we need to learn how to do this)<br />If you know the group, pick on people to answer<br />Pre prepare some right and wrong answers on cards which are distributed amongst the group and ask them to read them out and vote on the correct one.<br />
  7. 7. What do you do if students are continually talking while you are talking, or alternatively, appear to be asleep?<br />We said<br />They may not realise how loudly they are talking, so don’t assume they are being intentionally rude <br />Ask them to be quiet or give them the opportunity to take the conversation elsewhere<br />Unless they are being disruptive (eg snoring!) ignore<br />For other disruptions eg typing , use resources such as NetSupport School to take over PCs and avoid this.<br />
  8. 8. How do you cope when the technology lets you down?<br />We said:<br />Plan ahead, have an alternative ready<br />Do not panic!<br />Try not to rely so much on powerpoint slides for prompts – do we really need them?<br />For live demos, if connections don’t work, have some screen shots prepared or even use software such as Lotus screencam to create videos of demos<br />
  9. 9. What do you do if you get through all the material quickly and there’s lots of time left at the end?<br /> <br />We said:<br />Consider where any points might need more explanation/ practice<br />Encourage questions<br />Invite them to stay on and speak to you individually – make it seem that you have designed time in for this<br />Be flexible about finishing a little earlier<br />