Teaching an hour of class to a room of smart, accomplished peers can be intimidating for an undergraduate. Many students found the teaching experience nerve-racking. Mitch Kochanski, Steve Reifenberg's student from spring 2014, shares his suggestions and insights about teaching a successful class. From preparation to framework, Mitch offered Ena Solorzano, his mentee in spring 2016 class, a number of valuable pieces of advice.
I really enjoyed my conversation Mitch Kochanski. Below are some of the insights from our call:
Preparing for Teaching:
Practice, practice, practice in order to become an expert at what you are teaching. Make sure that you are able to respond to as many questions that might come up from your peers about your topic. However, do not practice just your lesson but try to talk to other people (not necessarily in the class) about your topic. Have conversations and make sure you feel comfortable talking about/explaining your main ideas or concepts. Find creative ways to present the information you are reading and researching about to your peers, friends, and even Steve before the actual lesson. Before your class, run your lesson and pilot your activity. Make sure you are aware of issues of timing and logistics. You always have less time than you think you do.
Framework of Lesson:
Mitch suggested that a useful framework to think about/plan your lesson would be:
- Opening: have a hook or something that brings about discussion and captures everyone's attention.
- Lecture: Deliver theory or your main ideas in 10-20 mins
- Activity/Application: The most memorable lessons were those that were widely applicable.
- Small or large group discussion
The best lessons also found the right balance for pre-work/preparation/homework. Make sure the pre work is light to ensure that people will realistically be able to do it. Your assignment should be prescriptive so that people have an understanding why they are doing what they are doing and so that the pre-work flows meaningfully into the lesson.
Things Mitch would have done going back:
- Record yourself saying your lesson to listen to later. Experience your own style of communication and you will learn a lot about yourself and what works/does not work.
- Spend more time talking to people about your subject. Lean on module partners to do so.
About the DAT experience:
Be proactive and push you and your team to role clarity. Make a conscious effort to make everyone accountable of a specific task and/or question. Ask for clarity as much as you can from your client and their objectives. Be patient and listen but also ask the right questions. Put tight boundaries in what you are doing and make sure to constantly put in writing (email): what the problem/opportunities and what the deliverable/solution should look like.
Development Advisory Team: Enseña Chile, Chile
"At Notre Dame I studied mechanical engineering and political science. Since taking International Development in Practice II and graduating, I have spent ~1.5 years with the Bridgespan Group, a non-profit strategy consulting firm. My projects have touched a few different sectors (public health, human services, youth employment) and capabilities (theory of change, implementation, measurement, organizational design). International Development in Practice IIwas without question among my favorite courses from my five years at Notre Dame: the content is fascinating and relevant, the learning community is engaging, and the DAT project is challenging and rewarding. In this course I learned as much about pedagogy and client services as I did about 'development' (a convenient buzzword that this course will push you to scrutinize and define for yourself!)"