Teaching with Confidence: Advice for New Faculty

In the now classic article Confidence in the Classroom: Ten Maxims for New Teachers, author Jim Eison offers priceless advice for new teachers. Over the years, I have given hundreds of copies of this article to new and not-so-new faculty. Even though it was published more than 20 years ago, it still deserves a place in your collection of indispensible articles on college teaching.

The type of confidence Jim outlined in the article is not to be confused with arrogance—that overbearing pride that finds expression in classrooms where how much the teacher knows is regularly displayed and compared with how little the students know. Those overbearing types are not likely to be reading a blog like this so that’s not what’s on tap today.

We all know that effective teachers teach with confidence, but what makes Jim’s article so great is that he identifies the sources of that confidence. It starts with a clear-eyed examination of why you teach. For the money? Not likely, and not a sustaining reason. For the glory? Not likely. How many rich and famous college teachers do you know? For the students? Now there’s a more promising possibility. Because the future depends on people knowing what you teach? Another possibility with potential. There will be different reasons but they must be ones that energize the intellectual, emotional and physical demands of teaching. Teachers of any age will enter the class with confidence and poise if they are there for important reasons. It’s good to regularly revisit yours.

You teach with confidence when you know the ingredients and components of effective instruction—when you know what good teachers do. Good teaching is not a mystery; it isn’t a gift. It’s compromised of acquirable skills—meaning you can learn what the skills are and work to develop them. Research starting in the 30s has identified the ingredients or components of effective instruction with remarkable consistency. Jim’s article offers a neat summary of three: speak actively (be expressive and enthusiastic), teach actively (engage students, let your teaching be about their learning), and care actively (be concerned about your students; their lives and learning).

You teach with confidence when you are prepared—when you go to a course or a specific class with explicit goals in mind. You know what you want to accomplish and you’ve planned how that will happen. That doesn’t mean that you’re inflexibly married to the plan for the day. There should be digressions and unplanned opportunities for learning, but after they happen they can be folded into your larger course plan. Being prepared isn’t about perfection. Good teachers hold themselves to high, but achievable standards. You teach with confidence when you know you’ve done your homework, when you’ve prepared as intensely as you hope your students have. But you teach realistically; teachers tend to prepare more intensely than students.

by Maryellen Weimer, PhD.

Read more @ http://www.facultyfocus.com/articles/teaching-professor-blog/teaching-with-confidence-advice-for-new-faculty/

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