I spent most of last weekend at Fanshawe College taking in a series of seminars and presentations designed to teach me how to teach. There were a few dozen of us, some with teaching experience and some without, and it really astonished me in hindsight that a couple of other colleges unleashed me, and many others, on unsuspecting students with no training whatsoever!
We learned a lot about different personality types and how they learn. And that it’s up to the Prof to make sure they’re teaching in different ways so that everyone gets something out of the lessons. The onus is on the Prof to tailor their approaches to the students which is a 180 degree difference from how it was when we were kids. Blaming, shaming and embarrassing were often the ways teachers handled students who became fidgety or had trouble keeping up. Fanshawe’s mandate – and that of all colleges – is to help all students get the knowledge they need to succeed and responsibility for that rests on the faculty. Having said that, it was also made clear that students have the right to fail! The two days covered a lot of ground, from preparing lessons to creating exams to dealing with students who have special needs to – you name it.
We did group work and there were some brief lectures and they mixed it up, kept it interesting. That’s what we are being asked to do. Gone are the days of a Professor standing at the front of a lecture hall, pontificating for all 3 hours of a class. Frequent breaks are advised. It’s as much about creating a supportive environment as it is about the material. I came away feeling really positive about my tiny role in the big picture of what the college is trying to accomplish. My first class is this afternoon and we’ll see then how much I’ve learned.