Small changes in teaching: the minutes before class

In a series of articles in The Chronicle from his book “Small Teaching: Everyday Lessons From the Science of Learning“, James M. Lang presents simple and practical ideas ideally suited to try out in lectures. In the second article, three quick suggestions for setting up a successful lecture before it even starts are presented:

  1. Try to arrive a few minutes early for each lecture and make the effort to chat to a couple of students. By talking to different students each time, this can help build a relationship with the class and an inclusive, engaged atmosphere. Even waiting outside the room for the previous class to finish can provide an opportunity to talk.
  2. Put the agenda or learning outcomes for the lecture up on the board or projector before the lecture starts. During the lecture, remind students where the class is up to to aid note taking, emphasise the alignment and how organised you are!
  3. Never leave the screen blank: put an interesting or intriguing image, phrase or question up on the projector. This could be from later in the lecture, to provoke curiosity, or relate to a previous class, to awaken prior knowledge – you don’t have to wait for the clock to strike to start teaching.
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