I received the following question from a podcast listener this week:
Hi Bonni, Thank you so much for the podcast. I have found it so helpful!
I am a Logistics professional in the UK but I was asked to give some courses last week and this week in English in my subject at one of the French Grand Ecoles. I was able to put some dynamic lecturing, retrieval practice, bloom's taxonomy, small teaching, etc into practice it was great fun! – yes I have listened to lots of the podcasts! I have been teaching a small group of 15 and 2 lecture classes of 100 per class.
One thing if you have any advice… Next Monday is my last session teaching in the repeated lectures ( 2 hours each ) in the afternoon. I have realised I have a large amount material to cover in this last 2 hour session – ( I went a bit slow on the first two lectures and now have a lot to get in as well as to get the students ready for a test).
Any advice on what to do when time is short in the classroom and you have a lot to get through? I can't change the deadline!
Cheers again, Michael
I have found myself in this sort of situation more times than I care to remember. I get excited about a topic (often times because the students really got into it) and I lose track of time.
As you have already indicated, ideally we plan more margin into our class planning to allow for these sorts of fun detours. However, the reality is that sometimes, we just need to catch up.
Here are a few thoughts I have on how to approach your Monday session:
- Utilize online resources. Provide students with resources to review outside of class. I suspect you are already doing that, but if Monday can be more about highlighting essential parts of the content that students are often confused by, that's a lot easier than trying to review it all.
- Start with retrieval practice. Better yet, do some retrieval practice during the first part of Monday's session. That way, you are not required to guess where points of potential confusion might be… You will know where additional review is needed.
- Emphasize the exam review. If one task takes priority on Monday, make it the preparation for the exam. Understandably, students are less patient learning about the nice-to-know stuff, the closer that it gets to an exam. They will value the time the most, if it is designed to help them perform better on the test and doesn't contain information that might be viewed as superfluous. This topic deserves longer than what I am giving it here, but I am stressing this point specifically because you are behind in your schedule and there's an upcoming larger-stakes assignment coming next. This would not be my general advice for how to teach a class all of the time.
- Mix up the topics. Interleaving is shown to improve retention. Therefore, mix up the review to address content you have previously covered, as well as what you have not yet emphasized in person. I am assuming they have assigned reading, or other means for addressing the content outside of class time. This can provide them with a way to test themselves on how much they have understood and retained from their reading (or whatever else was assigned outside of class time).
- Share the why. When we get rushed, we can forget to explain to students why we are approaching their learning in a particular way. Remember to explain about interleaving, for example, as a strategy that helps them retain the information better for the exam. Remind them about the importance of creating those neural connections in their brains, which is why we invest class time in retrieval practice.
- Explain the test structure. You did not indicate whether or not this is their first exam. If it is, spend some time explaining the types of questions they can expect to see and why the exam is structured the way that it is… This is when I typically reemphasize the difference between memorization and being able apply the learning in a specific context.
I hope this is helpful to you, as you consider how to plan the time together on Monday.
I also suggest taking Teddy Svoronos' advice about journaling, as he shared about in Episode 168. Give some advice to your future self who might one day teach this course again about how to structure the time better in the various class sessions. This makes a big difference in not finding ourselves in the same situation next time.
Thank you for the kind words about the podcast, Michael, and for the encouragement.