Words of advice: preparing to teach

Words of advice: preparing to teach

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Whether you are at the start of your teaching career or an experienced lecturer, a recent Words of Advice article by Bergemann and co-authors in The FEBS Journal (available to read here: https://febs.onlinelibrary.wil... ) provides thought-provoking and informative guidance on the best approach to take to become an effective teacher.  Silverthorn et al. provide a comprehensive guide to best practices in science education. These days, teaching no longer consists of just standing up in front of a class and presenting; therefore, Silverthorn et al. prescribe the introduction of ‘active learning’ (any activity that involves students doing something other than passively listening and taking notes) into the teaching style. Implementation of active learning can be promoted using the authors’ handy ‘Backwards design process’ model. The model describes how to set the parameters needed for a course, how to use learning objectives to succeed in creating the assessment element of the course and to select course content as the final step in the backwards design.

However, designing a course is only one element to becoming a strong teacher. Silverthorn et al. believe that emphasis should also be placed on the practical side to teaching. This includes matching classroom activities to the predetermined learning objectives, consideration of cognitive load whilst the lesson is being designed, and preparation of students - who may be hesitant - for the active learning components of the class. Furthermore, to flourish in teaching, the authors keenly suggest adopting a mentor to help guide and give feedback on teaching skills.

In summary, the authors advise that to be successful in the classroom a teacher should prepare in advance, be enthusiastic in their teaching materials and display this to their class and take on board all feedback to help improve their teaching style. But most importantly, they emphasise the importance of embracing and enjoying the teaching experience as a means to open the minds and inspire tomorrow’s future scientists, doctors, and engineers. The Words of Advice article can be read in full in The FEBS Journal: https://febs.onlinelibrary.wil...

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