Monday, January 25, 2016

3 Strategies for Making The Most of the Few Minutes Before Class Starts

Most professors arrive to class early, perhaps around five minutes before they will need to begin teaching. Typically, professors will use this time to collect thoughts, prepare technology, or organize slides and notes. Faculty who are newest to teaching may especially use this time to prepare themselves for lecturing, which can initially be intimidating. But once the jitters have gone and the course material has become second-nature, how can professors use that few minutes before class begins to maximize student learning? In a recent article, James Lang provides some suggestions on how best to use that time.

Get to know your students. In the book, How College Workssociology researchers conclude that relationships formed in college are the most important and influential part of the undergraduate experience. This includes relationships formed with professors, which are key to motivating students and increasing their learning and performance. Learning is easier when students can relate to their professors and know that professors care about their academic success. Using the first minutes of class to simply ask one or two students how they are, what their major is, or what they enjoy outside of class is an effective way to open the door to a mentoring relationship or at least increase their trust and participation.

Provide context. Use the extra pre-class minutes to help students understand the greater framework for the course or its attached field of study by writing an agenda or schedule for the day's material. This gives students an awareness of how course information fits in the day's lecture, the overall subject, and the course's sub-groupings and allows them to make connections between specific facts and ideas. This leads students to a more practical understanding of course knowledge rather than strings of facts to passively memorize and regurgitate.

Engage the class. Giving your students a reason to focus up and learn is a great way to use the minutes before class when students are still trickling in and getting settled. Displaying a picture, quote, or idea that relates to the course in an especially interesting way fosters interest and enthusiasm. Other engaging ways to warm up your students include sharing a funny image, story, or jokes. Personally, I ask students to request a song the class to be played in the following class, pick my favorite request, and play it in the 3-5 minutes as students are coming in. Such efforts not only help to enliven the class by bringing them some entertainment and break the ice, but also help to humanize their professor.

Keep updated with OFE:
OFE on Facebook

No comments:

Post a Comment