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Preparing a small group teaching session

Preparing a small group teaching session
Hello everyone. After discussing how to start a small group teaching session, I would like to go over some key items you should check when preparing for your first small group teaching session. Part of being a good teacher or student assistant with teaching duties involves being prepared with teaching activities. Let’s begin by thinking about some conditions of a course. Starting with location, where do you have to teach? Are you familiar with the room? How big is it? Is it large enough for the learning activity you want to set up with the number of students you will have? Do the students know the location? All these questions are worth considering while preparing.
You could also communicate specifics about location to your students and by doing so limiting the possibility that they will show up late. It might be the case that you do not have any say about location and that a room is not large enough for a learning activity you had in mind. Consequently, this will force you to adept your teaching to the situation. Secondly, do you know how many students are in your class? Teaching five to 10 students is a different challenge than teaching 25 to 30. Are you planning to learn the students’ names? If so, how will you do that? Furthermore, do you know anything about the background of the students?
For instance, what prior knowledge was a requirement for your course? Something else you might want to check is the planning of the course you are teaching. It is always a good idea to put all the sessions of the course, the lectures and small group teaching sessions in your own schedule. This planning also gives you an idea of what the students will learn or work on in which session. The same goes for the learning materials the students need. It might be useful to have a copy or access to it yourself. And do not forget to go through the materials yourself. As a teacher, you have to be prepared and master of the content of the materials.
It might be the case that you will have to help develop some of the PowerPoint materials for a small group teaching session. If you have to do so, please do not overload your slides with information. The slides with visuals and few keywords work better than a slide full of text. Your PowerPoint is not your script. You can write down what you want to say in the notes on PowerPoint below the slide. The planning of the course is often also available on the online learning environment of the university. As a student assistant of the course, you should have access to the page. If not, it might be wise to inform the course coordinator and request access.
The online learning environment is also a good source of information, since normally all the PowerPoints or recordings of the lectures by the course coordinator will be made available on the platform. You might want to check this before starting the small group session in order to be able to respond to possible questions of your students. After figuring out all the conditions, it is time to think about how you would like to set up your small group session. First and foremost, planning is key. It is important that you reserve time for an introduction and a conclusion of your session. In the next activity of this course, we will cover this in more depth.
Further, you need to consider how many key points, topics, or activities you plan to cover. Each topic or activity needs to be introduced and concluded as well. Planning of time during a session is something you learn when getting more experienced. Most people tend to cram in too much content in a session. When you’re not sure, ask your course coordinator if this will fit. For example, if the topic of your session is practicing with Newton’s second law, you might want to start with his short recap of what Newton’s second law actually is about. It is about result and forces. You do not have to do the recap on your own.
Let the students help you by asking them questions about their prior knowledge for example. After the recap introduce how you’re going to practise with the content. Let the students do the exercises. Conclude the exercises with a solution of the exercises. And finally, conclude the session. This brings me to my next point, doing exercises or assignments. If you plan to do some in your session, make sure you have done them yourself before hand. Not knowing the possible answers or how to get to an answer is embarrassing. To help your students to understand why they have to learn something, use real live examples in which you apply the theory.
For example, you can apply to formula of Newton to calculate how strong you have to be to push a car. Assume that this car weighs a 1,000 kilos, and you want to push the car with an acceleration of 0.05 metres per second squared. What force do you need to apply? From Newton’s second law, we know that the force is equal to the mass times the acceleration. So a 1,000 kilo times 0.05 metres second squared equals 50 Newton in the direction to the right. But do I have to write everything down what I want to say, you might wonder? That is up to you. Writing everything down might reduce the stress level for some people.
Others prefer to only write down the key points. A detailed solution of the exercises on paper might be a good idea, however. You might not remember the exact steps by heart, although you solve them, for example, the evening before. I would like to conclude this video with two golden rules. One, always be on time and preferably a bit early for your session. And two, practise makes perfect. In the next activity, we will tackle how to manage your classroom. But before we get to that, how would you prepare for your first session? I’m looking forward to hear from you in the next step.

In this video, Ine will go over some key items you should check when preparing for your first small group teaching session.

You can download the checklist below to prepare for your own teaching session.

View Ine’s profile on FutureLearn.

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Becoming a Student Assistant: Teaching and Mentoring

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