Whether you’re a professor or a postgraduate student delivering lectures to undergraduates, if you’re finding it difficult, let’s sort that out! The modern university culture, where students’ evaluation affects the success of their lecturers’ careers, has thrown up a whole new set of challenges to those teaching at higher-education establishments. For good or ill, this is how it is now and, if you’re not getting the sort of feedback you’d like from your students, it’s time to reassess your approach to teaching. Although this may involve quite a bit of practical work in terms of restructuring your material, mastering effective teaching techniques need not be arduous and can be achieved in a comfortingly short time (in many cases, as little as a few hours).
Training for university lecturers provided by the institutions themselves isn’t always as comprehensive and useful as it might be. If you’ve been lecturing for a long time, you may or may not have ever had any training in how to teach effectively. If you’re new to lecturing, the prospect of facing an auditorium full of demanding students may be a daunting one and you may feel nervous about it. Particularly these days, when the spotlight is on the student-contact aspect of the job more than ever before, your public speaking and teaching skills are under scrutiny. Whatever stage you’re at, a session or two of coaching will give you the tools you need to make a success of university teaching.
One-to-One Teacher Training for Lecturers
Just as with public speaking, being an expert in the subject is only the starting point. Imparting your knowledge to others is a whole different skill – but one that, as I say, needn’t take you long to acquire. (Oh, and if you’re in the unfortunate position of not being an expert in the subject you’re required to teach, this needn’t prevent you from inspiring and empowering your students to learn a great deal about it.)
Individual coaching is the most efficient way to build your skills and confidence. It allows us to concentrate on the areas of most concern to you and to tailor the solutions to your particular situation.
The coaching is a mixture of discussion and practical work, with plenty of opportunity for you to try out and make your own the new approaches you’ll be learning. According to your needs, it can cover any or all of the following and more:
Planning the course and preparing your lectures. Depending what sort of course you’re teaching, whether you’re sharing the teaching of it with a colleague and how much control you’ve got over the content (as well as what time of year we’re meeting to discuss all this), it may be useful to have a look at the overall structure and composition of your course and to think about what sort of materials will best support your teaching.
If most of these decisions have already been made for this academic year, the students already have a handbook containing the slides you’re going to use and so on, there is still scope for changing the lectures you have yet to deliver. The students will judge you on results, not on how closely you stick to the letter of the plan, so don’t be afraid to shake things up a bit. While it’s obviously easier to reinvent yourself and present a new image to a new set of students, it is possible to implement even radical change, either over night or gradually, within an existing context.
In addition to the practical aspects, we can look at the psychological side of preparing to connect with a group of students and put your message across in a way they will understand and remember.
Delivering your lectures. Even if you have the unenviable task of teaching a course that somebody else has prepared for you, you still have complete control over the way in which you deliver it and interact with the students. You will need to adjust the material to suit your new style but this investment will pay enormous dividends, in the form of significantly better teaching and a vastly improved experience for the students.
I’ll take you through the techniques of effective delivery (how to make best use of your voice, how to stand and move, how to connect and build a rapport with the students, and so on) and you can practise, while I give you feedback as we go along.
We’ll also talk about questions, both asking and answering them, and what to do if something goes wrong.
Contrary to what you may be fearing, effective delivery is not all about being entertaining. It’s about clear, strong communication of well thought-out content and creating an atmosphere that’s conducive to learning. Whatever sort of personality you are, I’ll work with you to find a way for you to achieve these things that feels right and (once you get used to it) comfortable. You don’t have to change who you are, only how you think about teaching.
How to arrange your coaching
Please click here to contact me and we’ll make a plan to suit you.
A session lasts an hour and a half and there is a great deal we can do in that time to get you lecturing effectively – and beginning to enjoy it! If you’re not too far from Manchester, I suggest we start with one session and see how you get on. If you’re further away and feel you would benefit from more than 90 minutes’ coaching, it might make sense to book a double session. It’s unlikely you’ll need more than 3 hours.
Where possible, I coach university lecturers in the classrooms where they actually teach, during hours when no students are around. Using your own lecture theatre/room gives you the advantage of practising in the genuine environment and also saves the cost of hiring somewhere but, if this doesn’t suit your circumstances, we can hire a meeting room in a place that’s convenient for you to get to.
My fees are 165 GBP per session, which includes local travel (broadly, within the M60 Manchester ring road). It doesn’t include any room-hire costs but, depending where we go, these don’t have to be much.
If you’d like to book a session, please get in touch, letting me know where you are and what specifically you want to work on. If you’re reasonably local to Manchester, we should be able to arrange a session for you within a week or two, if that’s what you’d like to do. If you’re further away, it will take a degree more planning but I travel extensively all over the UK for work, so that needn’t be a problem.