Advice is never shortcoming for anyone starting a new position and it is easy for those that have “been there, done that and got the T-shirt” to offer their golden nuggets of insight. One day you will be doing the same!
Take a look at our 12 top tips and cherry pick what you consider to be the most relevant for you.
Think complex and speak simple
It takes a lot of intelligent preparation to pitch your content at an appropriate level and to ‘speak simple’. Lots of new lecturers might be worried about not sounding intelligent enough but the aim of the game is to make your content intelligible and. Speak slowly too, no one like a lecture that breaks the speed limit.
Prepare but not too much
Planning and preparation are organisational imperatives for helping to bring about successful learning so that you feel confident about the content, structure and delivery of your material. But a common problem of new lecturers is excessive preparation and ‘covering content’ which then smothers learning.
Keep things lean and mean.
Many lectures are boring and many lecturers are boring too. The most memorable and effective lectures come from the heart where the lecturer displays a passion for their subject. communicate your ideas with intensity. Your words have to propel students, immerse them and energise them.
Lecturers need their notes and prompts but Speaking to a class has to be informal with good eye contact so that you can connect and forge relationships. Aim to vary your style, delivery and the ways in which you involve students.
Do something different
Always aim to do and say something that will pique their interest and aim to unhinge thinking so that it derails expectations and this way you are making lectures engaging, exciting and challenging.
It’s easily forgotten when you have so much to think about but sincere and spontaneous smiling is important. A class without endorphins isn’t a happy place to be. A genuine smile is paramount, something psychologists call a "Duchenne smile," and when you start to relax then these flow naturally.
Give students time
Ensure that during a session you give students time to review and apply ideas and give students activities that encourage them to review their lecture notes and use the lecture content.
Short breaks during a lecture can give students the opportunity to make sure they have correctly identified and recorded important information. Beyond this, give students time in lecture to solve a problem or discuss an idea and build in some quick quizzes.
Lecturing can be a lonely old game…if you let it. Cultivating professional relationships with colleagues is important for your own sanity and development. Connected educators have lower rates of anxiety because they are able to collaborate and support each other.
Twitter is the best source of 24/7/365 access to personalised professional development so make use of it to network, unlock new thinking, share ideas and find new resources. But always put ‘face-to-face’ first, invest in others and become part of a learning community.
Let it go
You are going to make mistakes and lots of them but don’t waste too much time mulling over any perceived ‘failures’, unforeseen situations or things that didn’t go to plan. It’s important to press pause and stop for some self-reflection and this is an important part of the job as learning curves are a daily occurrence but over-analysing something in particular won’t be healthy.
You will learn about your presentational style, content, delivery, tone of voice and crucially the engagement of your students and what learning is taking place. Even the smallest change to something you are doing could make a big impact and videoing will help you to see more because when you are in the thick of the action it’s difficult to see much at all.
One of the greatest ways to learn and improve for the future is to invite feedback. What students think of you matters a great deal and so it is important to seek their feedback on sessions. Proactively seek opportunities for feedback from students every term and ask for their honest opinions regarding content, activities and teaching strategies.
You might recall what happened to the restless Don Quixote: his brain dried up and he lost his wits because spent day and night reading his books. In order to avoid exhaustion, it is vital to set boundaries, learn to say “No” and make time for relationships, relaxation and recreation.
Perhaps the most important thing to remember as a new lecturer is don’t lecture but teach. The more you lecture, the less you can be sure that students understand. Lecturers should be cognisant of evidence-based teaching strategies, ask plenty of questions to assess learning and facilitate culturally inclusive active learning. Students should always be working harder than you are.
About the author
John is an ex-primary school teacher and Ofsted inspector who has spent the last 20 years working in the education industry as a teacher, writer and editor. John’s specialist area is primary maths but he also loves teaching science and English. John has written a number of educational and children’s books, and contributed over 1,000 articles and features to various educational bodies. John is eTeach’s school leadership and Ofsted advice guru, sharing insights on best practice for motivating and enriching a school team, as well as sharing savvy career steps for headteachers and SLT.