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Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Course No.  2044
Course No.  2044
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Course Overview

About This Course

24 lectures  |  30 minutes per lecture

Teaching is more than a job. It's a responsibility—one of the greatest responsibilities in civilized society. Teachers lay bare the mysteries of the world to us. They train our minds to explore, to question, to investigate, to discover. They ensure that knowledge is not lost or forgotten but is instead passed on to future generations. And they shape our lives in limitless ways, both inside and outside of the classroom.

But teaching is no easy task. It's an art form; one that requires craft, sensitivity, creativity, and intelligence. Whether your classroom consists of 3 students or 300, it's important to be as effective and successful a teacher as possible, both for the education of your students and for your own professional and personal growth.

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Teaching is more than a job. It's a responsibility—one of the greatest responsibilities in civilized society. Teachers lay bare the mysteries of the world to us. They train our minds to explore, to question, to investigate, to discover. They ensure that knowledge is not lost or forgotten but is instead passed on to future generations. And they shape our lives in limitless ways, both inside and outside of the classroom.

But teaching is no easy task. It's an art form; one that requires craft, sensitivity, creativity, and intelligence. Whether your classroom consists of 3 students or 300, it's important to be as effective and successful a teacher as possible, both for the education of your students and for your own professional and personal growth.

The Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator, one of the most dynamic and innovative Great Courses we've ever produced, is designed to help you achieve new levels of success as a teacher. These 24 lectures will help you develop and enhance your teaching style; provide you with invaluable methods, tools, and advice for handling all manner of teaching scenarios; and open your eyes to how other teachers—and their students—think about and approach this life-changing profession.

An invaluable aid, this course's insights are useful to a wide variety of teachers and people in other leadership positions:

  • Current teachers at the college and high-school levels
  • Aspiring teachers and teachers in training
  • Corporate managers and trainers
  • Public speakers

In addition, The Art of Teaching has value for anyone who's curious about how academic education in the 21st century works. While the examples used in this course are rooted in the world of academia, the concepts and principles they illustrate—

  • lecturing,
  • presenting,
  • leading discussion groups,
  • using technologies, and
  • using creativity and innovation

—can be put to use in nearly every situation in which you're required to teach and lead.

Learn How to Teach from the Best of the Best

The Art of Teaching is delivered by award-winning Professor Patrick N. Allitt of Emory University, one of The Great Courses' most popular professors. A distinguished teacher with more than 30 years of classroom experience and 5 years as Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching and Curriculum (designed to study and improve the art and craft of university teaching), he is the perfect instructor with whom to explore ways to become a great—or even greater—teacher.

What's more: He enhances his lectures with candid and illuminating interviews with an all-star group of veteran Great Courses professors, some of the brightest teachers in higher education. Not only do you hear what they have to say about their roles as teachers, you actually witness them applying their tools and techniques in lecture halls, seminar classes, and even one-on-one student coaching.

These teachers are

  • John Hale, Director of Liberal Studies at the University of Louisville
  • Jeanette Norden, Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine
  • Stephen Nowicki, Dean and Provost of Undergraduate Education and Professor of Biology at Duke University
  • Scott E. Page, Collegiate Professor of Political Science, Complex Systems, and Economics at the University of Michigan
  • Steve Pollock, Associate Professor of Physics at the University of Colorado at Boulder
  • Michael Roberto, Trustee Professor of Management at Bryant University

With these professors' wealth of teaching awards and accolades, their combined decades of experience teaching in classrooms of all sizes, and—most important—their deep and abiding passion for the importance of their profession, you'll learn how to teach from the best of the best.

Explore the Toolkit for Effective Teaching

At the heart of this new and unique course are the lessons you learn on how to enhance and improve your own teaching. In each lecture of The Art of Teaching, you'll discover a veritable toolkit of tips, techniques, exercises, advice, and wisdom rarely assembled in a single, affordable package.

Here's just a brief sample of what you'll learn in these 24 lectures:

  • How to handle the first day: The first day of your class is critical, because it gives your students an idea of what their learning experience will be like. Make sure that, during your first class, you explain your subject and establish your credentials for teaching it, demonstrate why the subject matters, set your expectations, learn your students' names, and immediately engage your students.
  • How to give a dynamic lecture: Excellent lectures are both informative and interesting. Some tips to make your lectures more dynamic and memorable: Start your lecture with something stimulating or controversial; vary your vocal volume, tone, and expression to maintain attention; occasionally ask rhetorical questions; and avoid overfilling your lecture with content.
  • How to effectively use technologies: When dealing with aids like PowerPoint, remember that the more teaching technology you use, the more time you're likely to devote to it instead of to your students. Keep your PowerPoint presentations bold and simple, and don't forget the usefulness of "traditional" technologies like blackboards. When using a teaching aid, always ask yourself: What does this method of teaching add? How will it help my students to learn?
  • How to create and administer exams: Exams should fully test your students' knowledge and thinking ability. Before writing an exam, ask yourself what you want the students to take from your course. Decide whether to administer a multiple-choice test, a take-home exam, or an oral exam; each has its benefits and drawbacks. Similarly, decide beforehand whether you're going to grade on a curve or according to an absolute standard, and what your policy will be for handling potential grade disputes.
  • How to survive the challenges of teaching: Teaching can be stressful at times, but there are many ways for you to remain focused. First, never take conflict with students personally; remember that your relationship with them is professional, and any disagreements should be handled professionally. It's also important to periodically reflect on your life as a teacher to ensure that you still view it as a vocation and not just a job to suffer through.

A Course Unlike Any We've Crafted Before

The Art of Teaching is a course unlike any we've crafted before—specifically because of how thoroughly it immerses you in the experience of being a teacher.

Professor Allitt's course takes you across the country and brings you inside the classrooms of some of the greatest universities in America, where you actually watch great teachers doing what they do best. It's this dynamic approach that makes the course a unique learning experience—one that gives you the knowledge on how to be an effective teacher, then demonstrates it for you.

In addition, you get a chance to hear views about teaching from the students themselves. Professor Allitt's interviews with students offer a fresh and often undocumented perspective on the art and craft of teaching. What do students think are the qualities of a great teacher? How would they describe the perfect classroom experience?

With its diverse perspectives, its immersive nature, and its unparalleled look at the lives and minds of a variety of instructors, The Art of Teaching will reshape the way you think about and approach this important profession. By the conclusion of the final lecture, you'll have an amazing reservoir of skills to draw on in your own teaching. Most important, you'll have found a source of guidance and inspiration that will last your entire career.

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24 Lectures
  • 1
    Successful Teaching
    What makes a good teacher? What makes a great one? In addition to illustrating the important role that teaching—and teachers—play in civilized society, Professor Allitt outlines the structure of the following 23 lectures and introduces you to the other veteran Great Courses professors who'll appear throughout the course. x
  • 2
    The Broad Range of Learners
    There has always been a strong relationship between teaching and learning. Here, discover how lifelong learning habits are cultivated by listening to students share their own insights, and hear teachers stress why it's important to always keep learning. x
  • 3
    Starting Out Right
    The first day of class. It's the most daunting moment in the career of both new and seasoned professors. In this lecture, learn how to make the most of your first class meeting by actively getting to know your students' names, demonstrating why your subject is so important and fascinating, establishing your expectations, and more. x
  • 4
    The Teacher's Persona
    Discover ways to develop and enhance your teaching persona—the in-classroom personality that establishes respect among your students. These include establishing guidelines and boundaries; using dress, regionalism, age, and other personal characteristics to your advantage; and avoiding the pitfalls of treating students as peers. x
  • 5
    Planning the Work
    What do you want your students to learn? How do you intend to teach your subject? How would you solve potential learning problems? The answers to these questions lie in this lecture on the art of planning, which can help cut down on your degree of uncertainty and strengthen your teaching confidence. x
  • 6
    The Teacher-Student Relationship
    Listen to what teachers and students themselves have to say about the importance of maintaining responsible and productive teacher-student relationships. Professor Allitt also offers tips on the best ways to create and maintain a strong practical and professional working relationship with your students. x
  • 7
    Dynamic Lecturing
    Throughout the history of education, lecturing has been one of the basic ways teachers pass information on to their students. So what makes a lecture good? How can you work toward becoming a more effective lecturer? What kinds of mistakes do lecturers commonly make—and how can you avoid them? Find the answers here. x
  • 8
    Teaching with PowerPoint
    The 21st-century classroom is filled with all manner of technological teaching aids, yet it's easy for these technologies to be misused and overused. With PowerPoint as your example, focus on tips for using technology to complement, not control, your teaching style. x
  • 9
    Demonstrations, Old and New
    From PowerPoint, move on to other technologies that can both enhance and detract from your lectures. This lecture reveals the pros and cons of using older "technologies"—like blackboards, whiteboards, and in-class demonstrations—and more recent technologies such as clickers, e-mail, and podcasts. x
  • 10
    Teaching the Critical Skills
    Teachers must resist the assumption that their students know how to read critically. Here, Professor Allitt stresses the importance of having your students read aloud as a way to develop and enhance their knowledge of vocabulary, grammar, tone, and other components essential to analytical reading. x
  • 11
    Engaging with Discussion, Part 1
    Equally as important as critical reading skills are critical speaking skills. In the first of two lectures on this subject, discover how to make the most of your seminars with helpful ways to coax participation in your classroom, including calling on quiet students and encouraging your students to ask plenty of questions. x
  • 12
    Engaging with Discussion, Part 2
    Watch class discussions in action and learn how small groups can strengthen your students' abilities to communicate intellectually; how the special type of seminar known as the case method can prepare your students for the professional world; and the vital role of humor in turning your seminar into a productive environment. x
  • 13
    Cogent Thinking and Effective Writing
    A great weakness in American education and, consequently, in business is students' writing. Improve the way your students write with Professor Allitt's suggestions for assignments and exercises, including assigning papers with sentences of 10 words or fewer (to stress the merits of precision), 100- and 500-word summaries (to test students' ability to isolate issues in a text), and more exercises. x
  • 14
    Teaching Revision and Editing
    Continue your exploration of how to encourage and strengthen student writing with pointed advice on editing drafts (such as looking out for verb-tense inconsistency), rewriting papers (such as reading drafts aloud), and practicing more writing (such as having students keep a journal). x
  • 15
    Coaching Students on Presentation Skills
    Presentations, delivered by either one student or a group of students, are a part of nearly every teacher's classroom. So what makes a presentation so bad? More important, what can you do as a teacher to improve the quality of your students' presentations? Discover the answers to these questions here. x
  • 16
    One-on-One Teaching
    Research shows that one-on-one contact between teachers and their students has benefits for both parties. Here, watch two instances of Professor Allitt interacting with individual students and witness just how effective and valuable this kind of teaching experience really is. x
  • 17
    The Learner's Perspective
    Learn from students themselves their perspectives and opinions on the art and craft of teaching. What do they want from a teacher? What responsibilities do they take for their successes and failures in the classroom? How do they think teaching could be improved? x
  • 18
    Exams, Evaluation, and Feedback
    In this lecture, Professor Allitt reveals several approaches you can take to creating, administering, and grading exams—whether multiple-choice, short answer, or even oral tests. Plus, investigate ways to deal with cheating and plagiarism and how to approach—and learn from—your students' evaluations of your class. x
  • 19
    Maintaining Your Enthusiasm
    When you've taught for quite a while, it can be easy to lose enthusiasm for your profession and your subject. But research shows that students respond favorably to enthusiastic teachers. Here, learn how to reinvigorate your teaching by tapping into new research in your field and experimenting with team teaching. x
  • 20
    Managing the Challenges of Teaching
    Teaching is not easy—especially for beginners. This lecture exposes strategies for maintaining your confidence in common challenging teaching situations, such as when you have a large course load or when you have to teach outside of your area of expertise. x
  • 21
    Creativity and Innovation
    Just as important as maintaining enthusiasm for your job is instilling in your classes a sense of the unexpected. Look at some valuable techniques for keeping your teaching style interesting and innovative, and discover why these techniques can be more effective when they take advantage of your location or the special circumstances of the moment. x
  • 22
    Myths, Lies, and Half-Truths
    Education is for everybody. A good teacher makes all the difference. You should always uphold your students' self-esteem. The best teachers work at the most prestigious colleges and universities. Professor Allitt dispels these and other common—and sometimes controversial—illusions about teaching and American education. x
  • 23
    The Anatomy of a Great Teacher
    Listen to professors describe their lives and learn the answer to one of the most important questions in this course: What makes a good teacher great? Some common characteristics of great teachers that you explore include thinking of teaching as a calling, not a job; being able to be self-critical; and constantly striving to improve. x
  • 24
    Teaching and Civilization
    Conclude the course by taking a giant leap back and viewing the art, craft, and importance of teaching from a historical perspective. Why is education so important to advancing civilization? Who are some of history's greatest teachers? And what is the moral and political significance of this honorable and ancient profession? x

Lecture Titles

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Patrick N. Allitt
Ph.D. Patrick N. Allitt
Emory University

Dr. Patrick N. Allitt is Cahoon Family Professor of American History at Emory University, where he has taught since 1988. The holder of a doctorate in history from the University of California, Berkeley, Professor Allitt-an Oxford University graduate-has also taught American religious history at Harvard Divinity School, where he was a Henry Luce Postdoctoral Fellow. He was the Director of Emory College's Center for Teaching and Curriculum from 2004 to 2009, where he looked for ways to improve teaching. In this critical administrative position, he led workshops on a wide variety of teaching-related problems, visited dozens of other professors' classes, and provided one-on-one consultation to teachers to help them overcome particular pedagogical problems. Professor Allitt was honored with Emory's Excellence in Teaching Award and in 2000 was appointed to the N.E.H./Arthur Blank Professorship of Teaching in the Humanities. A widely published and award-winning author, Professor Allitt has written several books, including The Conservatives: Ideas and Personalities throughout American History; Catholic Intellectuals and Conservative Politics in America, 1950-1985; Catholic Converts: British and American Intellectuals Turn to Rome; and Religion in America since 1945: A History. He is also author of I'm the Teacher, You're the Student: A Semester in the University Classroom, a memoir about one semester in his life as a university professor. In addition, he is the editor of Major Problems in American Religious History. He has written numerous articles and reviews for academic and popular journals, including The New York Times Book Review.

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Reviews

Rated 4.4 out of 5 by 53 reviewers.
Rated 5 out of 5 by Well done and greatly helpful I have been teaching publicly in some capacity for about 20 years, either as a pastor or school teacher. One of the things I realized is, though i have been well instructed in my field, I had never taken an actual course on teaching. This course was just what I needed. It has made me think more deeply and creatively about what I do, and it is my hope that there will be continued development in this that I love to do. I have been recommending this to others, and am hoping to help incorporate some facets of the material in two schools that I am associated with. Thank you for such excellent instruction. Keep up the good work. October 11, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by The Art of Teaching The arts of presenting to a class of students and presenting to a jury are closely related. Both involve teaching new material, and doing so in a manner that rivets the attention of the student or juror, supports persuasion where appropriate, and elicits feedback, both directly and subliminally, from the listener. This course is being used in a "Fridays at Four" presentation at my college, a lecture, then discussion. The audio version I listened to during the long commutes was just as effective, but the images were more vivid because they came from the imagination. This is a top notch course, worth every minute of attention, and while it may not make you a better teacher or jurist straightaway, it does provide all the tools that will get you there with diligence and repetition. I highly recommend the Art of Teaching lecture series. October 5, 2014
Rated 5 out of 5 by Thing I could have used. This course provided many insights that I could have used both in work and when working with the Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts. It was interesting to find that I already was using some of the ideas, but there were many others provided. In a way it is dangerous as I have since started to pick out poor presentation items, both in my daily life and even in the Great Courses presentations. I'd say that means it works and left a lasting impression on me. If you teach or work with presentations in your work or other activities, this gives some good advice. Someone with a degree in education may already have this information, but I didn't and now I do. October 2, 2014
Rated 2 out of 5 by Maybe I had Unrealistic Expectations I bought this course solely out of curiosity and general interest. I am not a teacher or professor directly, as my work largely deals with one-on-one interactions in a clinical setting. I could see where this series would be very helpful for a green professor, though it turned out to have little of substance with which I can work. I also had the audio version, which was occasionally frustrating to listen to because it would have an interview clip of a professor with what I finally determined was an audio-video clip of that person in action running concurrently; the end result was an overlap of dialogue, with the partially perceptible discussion adding only distraction. I had just finished the course, "Scientific Secrets for Raising Kids Who Thrive," and I was honestly expecting a more concrete approach. What is the recent research and evidence behind various teaching approaches? How does one work better in certain settings than others? Instead, the course is largely subjective and opinion driven, though I credit Dr. Allitt for highlighting opinions different from his own. Most all the student interviews did not add any substance to the lectures themselves, though one could learn from many of their interviews how annoying filler words (um, like, you know, etc) can be to the listener as well as how they do not enrich a speaker's points. Ironically, the thing I gained most from this lecture series what that I might want to purchase one of Dr. Allitt's courses on history. In a few of the lectures, I caught a glimpse of his approach and was actually quite interested in hearing more about the history he was teaching, though beforehand had never really considered purchasing a history course. August 31, 2014
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