8 Tips To Becoming Everyone’s Favorite Teacher
In our previous article we discussed the nine teaching basics that attorneys can use to start their journeys as teachers, adjunct professors, or lecturers. As a follow up, here are eight ways to own your classroom and become a teaching rock star.
1. Set expectations about your schedule
Unlike regular professors, adjuncts have jobs, business trips, long commutes, and a slew of other unexpected things that may come up. Set expectations about your schedule early and often about the scheduling accommodations you may need. You may also want to think about ways to mitigate these complexities by co-teaching with someone else or pre-recording classes you know you’ll have to miss.
2. Set goals and concrete outcomes
Figure out what your course goals are, and then work backwards to figure out how you will reach them. This goal-oriented curriculum approach focusing on concrete outcomes maximizes the chances that you stay on target and on message. This will also help you determine whether your class should include guest speakers, books, articles, videos, mock negotiations, mock arguments, field trips, or any other add-ons. Each of these decisions should be evaluated through the lens of whether their inclusion in the curriculum advances your teaching goals and outcomes.
3. Create the best teaching environment
To maximize your impact, create an educational environment that is respectful, yet encourages active and honest dialogue. You are preparing students to discuss complex legal and business issues, and the level of comfort they feel sharing their personal perspectives directly correlates with your success as a teacher. Encourage participation from everyone (not only those who already speak up regularly), steer the conversation towards your objectives, and make all questions welcome.
4. Reflect and learn
After each class, take five minutes to write down what you would have done differently. This will help you improve your teaching skills for next time. Becoming a teacher, you are also becoming a student again, since teaching is a skill learned and honed over the years.
5. Mid-Course Evaluations
In line with meeting your objectives, consider asking students for simple mid-course evaluations. Ask what contributed to their learning the most and the least. Encourage students to share concrete things you should start, stop, or keep doing in the classroom. As with any other feedback, follow up is key: address the student comments and requests and describe how their feedback will change the course now or in the future. Consider telling the students how you’ll modify the class based o their feedback.
6. Teaching to a tech-savvy student base.
Your students grew up with computers and the Internet in the classroom, and are digital natives.” Keep in mind that your they may expect multiple forms of media as part of the classroom experience and may have more difficulty with extended traditional reading assignments. Students can find an overview of any subject online, and where you will add the most value is by explaining and demonstrating how to apply core elements to real-life situations. Think about assigning hands-on learning exercise, and creating a short summary of key lessons at the end of each class.
7. Take advantage of classroom technology
Many law schools and universities have modernized in the last decades and offer numerous technology solutions (from pre-recorded classes, virtual participation, to fancy gadgets). Work with your university or institution to make sure that you know your options and how to use them. You would be foolish to not take advantage of your school’s investment in new technology.
8. Stay adaptable
It is important to stay adaptable. You may get attached to your curriculum and become very comfortable teaching it as time goes on. However, every class is unique and students change from semester to semester. You may need to change your curriculum from year to year to meet the current needs of the classroom. This way, your curriculum will reflect the needs and expectations of everyone who is in your classroom at any given moment.
Like any other skill, teaching is something perfected through lots of practice. These tips are meant to encourage you to stay open and adaptable, so that you can figure out you’re your unique teaching style is.
Have you had a rewarding teaching experience? Any other tips you want to share with our readers? Tweet us with your questions and thoughts!
This article was originally published by Above the Law.