Home > Commentary, Pedagogy, Teaching > The art of engagement

The art of engagement

September 15, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Recently I’ve been to quite a few talks. These come in all shapes and sizes and can be thoroughly enjoyable or rather dull.

Yesterday morning my partner and I were at a university open day and we witnessed both extremes within the same talk, and it got me thinking about why there was such a contrast and how I could use this experience and apply it to the classroom.

First, let me tell you about the talk. It was an overview talk about a subject offered at the university and it branched into three specialities. The first lady spoke about the course as a whole and then her branch specifically. She was superb. All she was doing was reading prompts off a PowerPoint and elaborating on them, but she kept an audience numbering around 200 enthralled for well over twenty minutes. I was watching and analysing and I think the reasons she was so enthralling we’re: she knew her stuff; she was obviously enthusiastic about the course and loved it, she moved around, looked from person to person and incorporated an energy into her presentation and she included a couple of jokes. I think there’s a lot to be learned here. I think that these factors can be applied to classroom teaching. We should all know our stuff, be experts in our subjects. We should all be teaching stuff we love and are enthused by, we should all be putting our energy into lessons and we should try to make the odd joke too.

She handed over to a colleague who spoke briefly about his branch of the course. He read notes from a scrappy bit of a5 paper and basically just listed the names of places students may go to complete placements and said it was rather different to when he started in the seventies. He appeared disinterested, he spoke in a quite, slow, monotonous, voice. He ummed and erred and it was rather excruciating. He spoke for around 5 minutes, but it felt infinitely linger than the twenty minutes the first speaker had spoken for. I think the key points of not here are: failure to properly prepare can lead to a poor delivery. If you are disinterested at the front, the room WILL follow. And always try to speak load enough for everyone to hear, to keep dynamics in your voice and try to keep the umming and erring to a mibimum.

He then handed over (thankfully!) to another colleague who spoke about her branch of the course. She again spoke with enthusiasm, she didn’t use prompts but spoke clearly and concisely and had obviously really thought about what she wanted to say. This reinforced what I had taken from the first two speakers and I intend to keep these lessons in mind during planning and teaching.

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  1. October 16, 2013 at 10:28 pm

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