Tips to shorten course prep?




In our newest “how can we help you?” thread, a reader asks:

I’m a grad student that started teaching. I am spending literally an entire day and sometimes more preparing for lectures. Reading, rereading, writing notes, making slides. How much time do others put into prepping class? Do you have any useful tips on more efficient ways to prep?

These are excellent questions. Another reader, “Plato”, submitted the following reply:

You need to set limits. Also, the strategies of flipping the classroom actually do work. You need to get students doing more of the work, and ideally, outside the classroom. That way, you facilitate a discussion, and correct misunderstandings. They will learn more, and you will not burn out. But it does take some nerve, and good planning.

I entirely agree. Prepping all day (or more) for a single class seems like way too much to me. Earlier in my career, I spent a lot more time prepping than I do now–about 2 hours per class for a 3/3 course load. That meant that I spent the better part of a day prepping for a full day of teaching three classes. But one of the best lessons I learned is the one that “Plato” suggests. Flipping the classroom, putting more responsibility on students to do work and come to class prepared to talk, can vastly lessen the amount of prep time one needs. And, to be honest, it seems to vastly improve student learning and experience. Instead of composing long lectures, compose shorter lectures with some group assignments interspersed throughout. Then give students 5-10 or more minutes to come up with answers to discuss. Also, consider requiring class participation. This past year, I required students to come to class with 3-5 questions on the daily reading (complete with page citations), and required them to say something substantive at least once per class–and if called upon to share a question, they would have to share one that hadn’t already been asked (with a page citation showing that they had engaged with the text. It worked like a charm!

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Any useful tips for the OP?

Originally appeared on The Philosophers’ Cocoon Read More