Ethan’s 3rd post:
In the closing plenary of yesterday’s Learning to Teach workshop, Doctor Andrew Hendry, professor of Evolutionary Ecology at McGill, demonstrated a terrific example of what he called an ‘inspirational class’.
According to him, since information is easy to access nowadays, what distinguishes a good teacher from a mediocre one is whether he or she is able to inspire the students and make them feel sad when the class is over. He surely can do that. In his lecture, he demonstrated how to pass on hands-on learning, how to use social media to inspire students and how to ‘perform’ in front of the class. At the end of his lecture, I could literally sense the energy in every audience and feel that the spirit of the entire hall was lifted up. A picture says a thousand words, and here is a youtube link of how he teaches evolution: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dcMUnYIYUjE. Believe me, you won’t be disappointed.
Looking back at the educational sociolinguistic class I have taken this semester, I feel inspired too. The aura of the course was so inviting that you never feel intimidated speaking in front of the class or to the professor. The topics and issues discussed in each class would always arouse inspirational discussion, in which I learned a lot not only from the professor, but also from my classmates. In a word, one could easily wish the class just went on and never stopped.
I feel so fortunate to have met two great professors at McGill. Their effective teaching style gave me confidence and inspiration to my future teaching. Having taught a foreign language for some years, I often hear complaints about how challenging it can be to teach a language. However, I have different opinions. What if we see language as a living organism that is changing and growing everyday, which means as a teacher, each day you could expect to learn something new together with the students. Isn’t that just exciting? We all know that in order to improve ourselves, we must keep pace with the development of the society. In the same token, if we don’t put our best effort to innovate our teaching, we will fail to live up to the expectation of the students and the society. I don’t want to put a lot of pressure on my colleagues and counterparts; however, with so many role models to follow and to surpass, we should feel proud with the choice to teach a language in the first place.
Lastly, a few thoughts from the workshop and my own experience as a teacher to share with my fellow language learners and educators: (please feel free to add more)
- Always work and teach with passion
- Relate to the students as a vivid human being
- Know your teaching content well and know your students
- Show that you care about each and every student in class
- Try to impart knowledge as if you’re telling a story
- Show up early in class and greet each student
- Wear a smile in class and remember to look in the students’ eyes
- Always reflect after each class
- Be not afraid to say ‘I don’t know’; but always come back with an answer
- Make sure that the students understand something well instead of knowing everything poorly