First as teaching assistants and later as instructors, many graduate students find themselves at the head of the classroom. Ironically, however, graduate study often doesn’t teach students how to teach and not all grad student instructors first serve as TAs. Most of the graduate students instead find themselves instructing a college class with little to no teaching experience. Most turn to the techniques they have experienced as students, most commonly the lecture method when faced with the challenge of teaching despite little experience. Perhaps the oldest form of instruction. it has its detractors who argue that it is a passive means of education, lecturing is a traditional method of instruction. However, it's not always passive. Contrary to popular belief, a good lecture is not simply a list of facts or a rereading of the textbook. A bad lecture is painful for both students and instructor. An effective lecture is the result of planning and making a series of choices that said – and it need not be boring. Below are some tips for planning lectures and classes.

Teaching tips for grad students

Your lecture might be based on the most important material in the reading assignment, a topic from the reading that students are likely to find difficult, or material that doesn't appear in the text. Explain to students that you won't repeat much of the material in the assigned readings, and their job is to read carefully and critically, identifying and bringing questions about the readings to class. Break up your lectures so that they are presented in 20-minute chunks. What's wrong with a 1- or 2-hour lecture? Research shows that students remember the first and the last ten minutes of lecture, but little of the intervening time. Take advantage of it to structure your class so undergraduate students have a limited attention span. Switch gears after each 20 minute mini-lecture and do something different: Pose a discussion question, a short in-class writing assignment, small group discussion, or problem-solving activity. Learning is a constructive process. Students must think about material, making connections, relating new knowledge to what is already known, and applying knowledge to new situations. Only by working with information do we learn it. Effective instructors use active learning techniques in the classroom. Active learning is student-centered instruction that forces students to manipulate the material to solve problems, answer questions, formulate questions of their own, examine cases, discuss, explain, debate, or brainstorm. Students tend to prefer active learning techniques because they are engaging and fun. Those that require students to think (e.g., What would you do in this particular situation? How would you approach solving this problem?) although the simplest way of using active learning techniques in the classroom is to ask reflective questions--not yes or no questions. Solicit their responses then rather than simply pose a discussion question ask students to write about the question first for 3 to 5 minutes.