Teaching preparation

ADMINISTRATION   LEARNING & TEACHING   SUPPORT
Administration checklist        Teaching checklist      Resources for teaching
    The first lecture   Improve your presenting skills
    Other things to consider       


Getting ready to teach

Administration checklist:

Teaching prep
  1. Organise the venues for your classes well in advance.Particularly in the case of large classes, but even for small ones, you will need to book venues months in advance, usually in Semester Two of the preceding year. See Timetables & venues.
  2. Ensure that you have the sessional staff that you need, well before the semester begins.
    There can be a lot of work involved in preparing them, particularly if you have to organise a large team. See Preparing sessional staff.
  3. Set up your eLearning site when you are preparing your unit of study (UoS).
    See UoS design for information on how to prepare the UoS.
  4. Once enrolment is close to finalised, email your enrolled students.
    In the week before classes begin, send an email to those enrolled, either through the timetabling system or through your eLearning site.
  5. Introduce yourself and remind your students:
    (a) about useful orientation activities they should attend (see the University's Orientation site)
    (b) to look at their individual student timetables
    (c) how to change their timetable if they need to
    (d) when their first lectures, labs or tutorials start (e.g. Week One or Week Two, etc.)
    (e) where they can get textbooks or students notes, and what they need to bring to class
    (f) if they have to attend OHS or other sessions prior to commencing classes.
  6. Make sure to put this information in an announcement on your eLearning site as well, so that those students who enrol later will see it too.
  7. Set your office hours, letting students and sessional staff know when you are available for consultations.
    It can be a good idea to post your timetable where students and staff can see it. If you are teaching large classes, consider other ways of dealing with student consultations. See Organising large classes.
  8. Check out the teaching space you have been allocated.
    Is it the right size for your class? If you haven’t used this space before, will you need to adjust how you teach in any way? Does all the equipment function? If not, see ICT support for AV services.
  9. Ensure that all your sessional staff are informed about the venues they will be using.
    Check that they have inspected these before their sessions begin and considered all the things listed above.
  10. Check that your sessional staff contracts, employment forms, and so on, are organised.
    Before sessional staff begin the semester, make sure they have a staff email address, and a unikey, so that they can use the learning management system, and so on. Make sure sessional staff can access the learning management system.
  11. Make sure your students have access to the UoS outline.
    If you are giving your students hardcopies of the outline, ensure that you make enough photocopies. If the UoS outline is posted online, email them a copy, or make sure they know where to find it so they can print a copy if they want to.
  12. Confirm that you have a working USB stick.
    You will need this if you are taking slides or other materials to your classes.
  13. Check whether the venue you are using has technology which enables you to record your lectures.
    If you choose to use this technology, you can then link to the recording from your eLearning site. If your venues don’t have this facility, then check whether your faculty has a general policy on students recording materials in lectures. Let the students know beforehand what the situation is in regard to recording your lectures. See Technical support for more information on lecture recording.

Teaching checklist:

  1. The best way to ensure quality is to pay close attention to previous unit evaluation.
    Use this to build responses and improvements into your UoS design. Also, schedule ways to elicit evaluation of your unit, particularly if it is a new one, during the course of the semester. See Incorporating evaluation for more detail.
  2. Make sure that you have relevant and interesting curricula, helpful assessments (with prompt feedback), and a unit outline that clearly states the learning objectives, and lists the learning activities.
    All of these not only make learning easier for the students, they ease your workload when it comes to preparing classes. See Unit of study design.
  3. Think about the timing of the learning activities in your classes.
    Prepare a running order sheet for your class, which covers any important notices or announcements, the key points you want the students to learn, the learning activities they will engage in, etc. Break up classes into 10, 15 or 20 minute blocks, using a variety of activities. Even in large lectures, you can keep students active and motivated with short interludes incorporating demonstrations, videos or student-centred activities using student response keypad (‘clicker’) questions or worksheets.
  4. Don’t forget to discuss staff/student roles and mutual responsibilities.
    Its important that students are very clear about these. See Staff/student responsibilities for a PowerPoint resource on this topic.
  5. Think about strategies for classroom management.
    Give your students a sense that they all need to take responsibility for their learning environment. For example, think of ways the group can remind individual members to keep disturbing noise to a minimum. See Classroom management.
  6. Don’t rely too much on technology and be prepared for it to fail.
    It can help to prepare materials for different lecture technologies, in case one type dysfunctions. Many lecture venues now have a magnified document projector that you can use to display and annotate printed material (like the good old overhead projector). If all else fails, an impromptu ‘chalk and talk’ session might not be so bad once in a while, especially if you encourage students to do some of the talking.
  7. Remember copyright restrictions apply on materials that you use in lectures, workshops, tutorials, labs etc.
    Also remind your sessional staff about copyright restrictions. Learning Solutions runs a course on Copyright Basics. Also see the University’s copyright guide.

The importance of your first lecture

The first lecture sets the tone for the semester.

  • Plan an introduction to the subject that will get your students enthused – approaches include using real-life applications and examples, or getting them thinking about controversial or tricky issues right from the start.
  • Have an icebreaker prepared – for example set an introductory group learning activity that helps the students get to know each other and reduces the de-personalisation that can be associated with large classes. By establishing interactive expectations from the outset, you also provide a framework for the students’ new learning environment, helping them to understand that learning is not a passive activity.
  • The Business School’s ‘Teaching for learning well: the first week’ web page offers some great tips on how to start off the semester well by setting the right note in your first lecture.
Teaching prep

Other things to consider before teaching begins

If you are managing a teaching team, consider producing a handbook for your tutors, which tells them all they need to know to teach well. See Preparing sessional staff for more information.

Resources on planning your teaching

‘Planning For Student Engagement in Lecture Contexts,’ Louisa Peralta, Jon Callow, Kelly Freebody, Hao Zhang. Synergy, Issue 30, July 2010.

For practical suggestions and ideas see Teaching Insight 1: What makes a good teacher? from the Teaching Insights resource provided by the Institute of Teaching and Learning (ITL).

Do you need to improve your presenting skills?

If this is the first time you have presented a lecture, or if you feel that your presentation skills need improvement, the Centre for Continuing Education (CCE) offers a range of helpful courses University staff receive discounts on many CCE courses, so contact them for further information.

Do keep in mind, however, that good teaching is not about your performance. Ultimately, it’s about how you facilitate your students’ learning. Make sure you focus more on what they do, than on what you do.