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How to Teach – Step Two

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Next in our series on how to teach, we examine presentation and practice. One you’ve decided on the objective – what you want the student to know and how the student will demonstrate that knowledge – then you need to figure out how to get the student to that point.

Mr. Jonathan  Barnes

One of the best ways to start to observe an experienced instructor. Jonathan Barnes, Academic Chair for Clearwater Humanities/ Fine Arts, shares his experience in mentoring.

My mentoring at SPC was probably different than most faculty members. When I started as an OPS employee in the Clearwater Fine Arts department, my job was to assist with the day to day operations in the classroom and art studios. I was responsible for maintaining the equipment, inventory of materials, ordering and assisting instructors with their classes. Because of this last part, I was able to observe and work (essentially co-teach) classes with Marjorie Greene and Kim Kirchman. Marjorie teaches Drawing, Design 1, Printmaking, and Painting, while Kim teaches Ceramics, Design 2, and Sculpture. In these classes, we worked with students and brought strengths to the class from our different backgrounds. It not only helped the curriculum, but helped me to become a better teacher and gain insight to their methodology and pedagogy.

Ms. Marjorie Ilene Greene, MFA

Not only did I assist in the classroom with instruction, but also with critiques. I found it extremely valuable to see Marjorie and Kim’s viewpoints when assessing a student artwork, and I also brought my views to the work as well. This worked well for all of the parties involved and I think has helped to make a strong program even stronger.

Marjorie, Kim, and I have worked together to revamp assignments and introduce new assignments, new processes, and troubleshoot processes that had glitches. This has led to even greater student success and engagement. With regards to technology, we have worked together in building PowerPoints, working in Angel to help each other be more proficient. Currently Marjorie and I are teaching ARH 1000 – Understanding Art online, which we developed together.

Ms. Kim G. Kirchman, Professor

The most important part of my mentoring at SPC was that I was able to observe veteran faculty, work with them in the class, work with them out of class on assignments, and during the whole time be treated as a peer. I was included in meetings, my input was sincerely considered, and I felt very welcomed into the department.

Thank you Jonathan, for sharing the value of working together with colleagues! Check with your Chair or Program Director about being part of the mentoring program or simply who’s available to shadow. Most teachers can’t wait to share!

As you gather ideas, keep in mind that presentation is how you lay out the basic data that the student needs to take in and practice is what the students need to do to learn the material. The same activity can meet both needs or you may need more of one than the other.

While there’s academic debate, the general consensus is that students learn best through multiple methods. Students may think teaching is the instructor standing in front of the classroom with a PowerPoint, but that’s not always the best way to meet the objective OR to assimilate information. Consider the following in choosing presentation or practice method:

  1. What does the student already know? How much context do you need to provide? If students have seen an experiment previously, can they can reasonably think of new ways to test for a science activity? If the student struggles to create his or her own experiment, do you need to walk them through a simple one first?
  2. How do students learn? Can students read something, listen to a recording, watch a video, or act out a scene? How can they think, feel, or interact with the content or each other?

For more on variety in presentation and practice, see the following and please weigh in with your ideas and experiences!

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