Friday, April 10, 2015

How to Work the Lecture Hall

The Chronicle of Higher Education
April 10th, 2015

For six years, beginning in 2004, I taught “Introduction to Film” in lecture halls. Course capacity was set at around 125 students.
At the time, I didn’t have websites like Vitae, Blog U, and ProfHacker to help me navigate the lecture-hall terrain. No one instructed me how to wrangle that many undergraduates. No one prepared me for the performance aspect of teaching in such a venue (yes, it is a performance). Finally, no one warned me that typical classroom disruptions — talking, tardiness, cell-phone use — would be magnified tenfold in a lecture hall.
Over time, I learned how to stay afloat. And so can you.
For starters, I created explicit syllabi, with hard deadlines for assignments and strict policies about classroom behavior. Second, I arrived in the classroom early and hung out briefly afterward to get to know some of my students. Third, I emailed my students before the term began, introducing myself and the course material. Fourth, I frequently moved around the room when lecturing, sometimes walking up and down the aisles. Finally, I appeared -- and usually was -- excited about the material.

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