Basic Teaching Pointers
|(Courtesy of Prof. Anant Sahai)|
1) Powerpoint slides should only be used for animated movies or pictures that you cannot draw on the board. The only text that should ever appear on a slide is a long quotation that you do not expect them to write down in their notes.
2) Write out the complete derivation in your notes and then mark for yourself which steps you are going to write on the board. When you're starting out, your IQ will drop by 50% when you get to the board. Have stuff in the notes to remind you of what all the intermediate cancellations, etc. were so you can animate those on the board correctly.
3) Cold-call students in your section. You have a right to do so and never let yourself think that you are being rude or impolite to the students by doing so. They need to learn how to speak up and answer when called upon.
(RSF- I would give students the option to say ``pass'' or to ask a question of the GSI instead).
4) Many students learn through their hands and having them draw in their notes is an important part of their learning. Use figures and tables liberally in your teaching.
5) If students aren't getting it all, slow down until students are following. There is no point in "covering material" for its own sake. You're there to help the students learn, not snow them with your brilliance.
6) When asked a question, try to help them discover the answer by creating a context of a specific example that is as simple as possible. The book and lecture have usually given them a definition or a more abstract treatment, but many students need a set of examples to anchor the concept in their minds.
7) Familiarize yourself with the basic description and content of the "post-requisite" courses in the department. Tell them briefly how the concept/tool that you are teaching them is going to be useful in those later courses or in their career. Many students get disheartened with material whose use they do not understand. This interconnection also helps them understand how different concepts fit together.
8) When asked for help on a homework problem, try to give them a simpler problem that covers the same concept. Ask them to try their hand at it. If they are having trouble, you can walk them through the solution of the simpler problem. Only then come back to the original problem.
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