31 January 2013

Don't make eye contact! Or perhaps maybe you should...

I've written briefly about the flipped classroom format being implemented in the intro bio class I'm helping to teach this semester. I get really jazzed about the increased amount of interaction I have with students. Even though there are twice as many students this semester as last, I still feel like I have more in-depth, meaningful conversations with more students, without an appreciable increase in face time. I've had time to think about how to facilitate interactions with students, and here's what I've found:

  1. This is a tip I picked up years ago in education classes at my alma mater, MU. Ever been in front of a class, ask a question, and hear crickets instead of answers? That just means you need to wait longer for an answer. Students will respond eventually if you wait, and chances are, the next time you wait, it won't be as long.
  2. Ask students how they are doing. It's shocking how many have questions they won't ask until prompted.
  3. Make eye contact with students who are looking around while thinking. It's a less invasive than the previous tip, and easier to do in a large classroom.
I feel almost silly by posting these, given how simple they are. It makes a huge difference in personalizing yourself to students, though, and making them feel more comfortable coming to you for help. 

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