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What is the best environment for learning?

I have taught at the collegiate level for over 6 years. Even though I have some ideas on how to teach, I know that I myself have somethings to learn. So I encourage some feedback from those that read this blog. But first, I'm going to present to you what my philosophy on teaching is. First of all, my teaching experience has been strictly limited to adults ranging from 18 years to retirement age. I teach at a community college on the evenings and the demographic is broad when it comes to age. So the following, I think is effective for adult students.

1. Read the body language of the class and adjust when needed.

While standing in front of the class, it is easy to see the interest or non-interest in the student's faces. When I think the class needs a break I have to adjust, the adjustments are merely to stop lecturing and get the students involved in a mini assignment to exercise the material I just covered. This will require the student to focus on the task at hand and I walk around the class to be approachable to the student if they have any questions. Once I see that they completed the task I proceed back to the front of the class and pick up the lecture where I left off. Now the assignments may vary from class to class. If you get a wide awake class maybe the time to engage the students to work will be as planned, once the lecture is over. However if you can't keep them awake until then, stop and have them engage on a mini assignment.

2. Limit the class to a small percentage of lecture and a large percentage of actual work. As much as I have tried to be funny, interesting and speak in a non-monotone voice, you will always see some students either not paying attention or trying to stay awake. It is human nature to nod off when one is tired or bored. So we have to remember that the students are in class to learn not just to hear the lecturer speak the entire time. My tactic is to keep them busy with assignments as well, just remember not to lecture during the assignment. Let them focus on the task. The more the students are engaged on the assignment the more they learn.

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