Using Class Time Well: Suggestions to Make Every Class Memorable


“How do I fill up four hours a week of class time?” At first, this exclamation from a first-year graduate student preparing to teach her first class seemed alien to my experienced teacher mindset. Perhaps I have long stopped thinking about how much time per week I am responsible for. Even for one class, for one term, 40 hours of preparation seems like a lot. Add more classes and perhaps a semester, and you are really faced with an intimidating number. I have been teaching for 24 years now. I often ask myself the opposite question: “How can I make everything fit into four hours per week?” The same thought should go into how one answers the first and second questions. They are both great and bear some reflection. Have you recently thought about how you use class time?

If you are reading this, here, I am certain your answer is not “keep talking.” When I first started teaching, I tended to fill class time by sharing content. I wanted to show my knowledge and establish my credibility. I primarily lectured. While lectures can be engaging, entertaining, and educational, I would much rather have students weigh the merits of coming to my “class” rather than my “lecture.” How we think about class time and what we call it (not just “lecture”) is important. Not treating it as time to only transmit content is important too. Sure, in days of yore when books were not freely available, the lecture was the primary means of content transmission. That is not the case today. Synchronous time together is valuable.

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