If you are going to direct teach, sometimes still referred to as lecture, one of the best ways to do it well is to identify the mistakes made during ineffective lectures and steer clear of them. Here is a list of the top eight mistakes that can keep you from presenting an effective lecture.
Mistakes That Doom Effective Lecture Delivery
1. Long, long, and longer. Direct teach using your most powerful examples and stories to bring meaning to your instruction for a short 10 minutes. Think of those ten minutes as “The Power Lesson.” This approach ensures that you hold your students’ attention throughout the lesson.
2. Covering too much detail. Use lectures to highlight important points in the text and help students make the connection between key ideas and previous learning. Include novel material that is not covered in the textbook, supplement with visuals or video.
3. Some lectures are just too static. Avoid this pitfall by incorporating new ideas into your instruction and prompting your students to develop their own viewpoints independently. Students are more likely to retain information when they are interested in the subject. Use the start of your lecture to encourage interest and curiosity in the topic at hand.
4. Dry delivery. Try to avoid this by varying your dynamics and even using several different types of media to facilitate understanding. Eye contact with students is of paramount importance as well, and be sure to avoid adopting a monotone.
5. Unenthusiastic teacher. A lecturer’s enthusiasm can significantly impact his or her students and their attentiveness. Teachers who are excited about the material they are teaching are usually better-received by students who, in turn, process and absorb the material more successfully.
6. Too much too fast. Students are more likely to retain information delivered through well-planned, well-delivered instruction than a lecture that is crammed with content but poorly delivered. Check-in with students at regular intervals to see if they have managed to grasp the material at hand. Remember to ascertain whether your students understand the current chunk of instruction before moving on to the next.
7. Talking “at” students instead of talking “to” them. Avoid this by encouraging feedback and group discussions. Take the chance to assess your students and then adjust your lecture to suit their pace and learning styles.
8. Death by PowerPoint. Presentation technology is certainly a useful tool, but misusing it can do more harm than good. Less on the slide is more. Seven bullets or less and 24pt font or larger are the keys to better slides.
Most importantly, have fun while you are teaching. Take some risks, try new technology, let students teach you and each other. If you are enjoying yourself, your students will be more engaged and motivated to retain what you are teaching.
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