After completing my masters from a university in Thailand, I gave some lectures on gender- and environment-related issues in youth workshops in Kathmandu. The response was overwhelmingly positive. This gave me the confidence to teach a complete course (Introduction to Gender Studies) to third year social work students at Kadambari Memorial College in Kathmandu.
Good teaching comes with years of trial and error. But it was my first time teaching undergraduate students. New to the field, I decided to experiments with various teaching techniques throughout the semester. These experiments called for a lot of time and effort. First, breaking the trend, I sought permission from the college administration to allow me to have an associate instructor, so that the two of us would jointly conduct classes.
Personally, it turned out to be a great learning-by-sharing experience. While preparing for the classes together, we worked tirelessly to set up beautiful and powerful power-point slides. We worked with pictures, videos, journals, newspaper articles, movies and so forth. The students enjoyed the novel approach, which they said was a welcome break from the dull lecturing they were used to.
In one of our lectures, we got the students to watch carefully selected Youtube videos, which successfully covered the contents of the lecture, perhaps better than we could have done on our own. It is rightly said that pictures are more powerful than words—students undoubtedly understood the concept better with the help of the visuals.
But just delivering lectures was not enough. To hone students’ individual skills, we harnessed their research skills. Group assignments were presented through entertaining skits. We also invited guest lecturers from different fields which broke the monotony of listening to the same-old teachers. By sharing the wealth of information at their disposal, they helped students learn better and apply their knowledge fruitfully.
I have learnt that experience matters, but if there is dedication, it is also not necessary that a good teacher has a lot of experience. I didn’t have a lot of teaching experience but I always kept asking myself: if I was one of them (my students), how would I want my instructor to teach? I constantly thought about the teachers and other people who had influenced me and questioned myself about what made them effective.
As an instructor one should explore all possible ways to make students relate to the subject matter better, so that their learning is not limited to textbooks. Teaching should not be preaching, but rather done in a way which makes both the instructor and students enjoy the process of learning from each other. Only this type of education can be effective in helping students to use their acquired knowledge effectively in their respective fields as well as in their daily lives