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Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

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Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator

Course No. 2044
Professor Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
Emory University
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Course No. 2044
Streaming Included Free

Course Overview

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
 |  30 minutes each
Year Released: 2010
  • 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

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Your professor

Patrick N. Allitt

About Your Professor

Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
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...
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Rated 4.3 out of 5 by 69 reviewers.
Rated 3 out of 5 by Teachers Make a Difference! First of all, I admit I'm torn on how to rate this. I am not currently a practicing classroom teacher, but I went to school to be a math teacher and teaching has always been a passion of mine. Because of my passion to teach, I was very excited to learn the "best practices from a master educator." Overall, there were some good nuggets in this series, for example, my favorite piece of advice is "Before the course begins, decide what you want students to know by the end of the course and what you want them to remember five years from now." It is important to note that this course is geared towards college-level professors. Professor Allitt is a great teacher and on one hand has a lot of experience/wisdom from many years of teaching; however, at other times, he comes across a little "old school" and I wanted to hear what newer more innovative teachers are doing. To be fair, he does bring in lots of inputs from the other teachers and students he interviews I felt like good concepts were discussed, but in many cases I would've liked to have heard more suggestions that get into the details of how to implement the concept, i.e., more specifics making the first day a success, or how to be more innovative. Overall, my summary of the characteristics and advice for teachers is that the best teachers want to be there, enjoy teaching, are great learners, are self-critical, and always willing to improve. These teachers plan carefully, establish clear objectives, and hold high standards. The students likewise have a part to play in this symbiotic relationship, which is primarily to take an active role in their learning. And teachers, can help by giving them opportunities to teach/present to other students. Teachers can also teach students how to read, take notes, write clearly, think, and participate in class discussions. Overall, if you're a professor/researcher who was not schooled in education, get the course! If you went to school for education, you are likely familiar with these concepts, but (if like me) want a refresher, then get the course. If you are a middle to high-school teacher, I would tend to shy away from this. For example, the challenges these teachers face, e.g., the dynamics of dealing with younger kids, discipline issues, etc. are not addressed in this series. With that said, a future Great Course on "Best Practices on teaching middle/high school students" would be a welcome addition (hint hint). October 6, 2016
Rated 3 out of 5 by I listened to the audio version. Overall, I think that this course was full of good advice, but is best suited for College Professors and IB teachers. It was a little hard to imagine Middle and HS teachers being able to apply some of the advice, due to lack of time, facilities, and to the fact that students are not there by choice. For Middle and HS, I would have wanted a little more about managing difficult students, how to make sure that school policies are clear and helpful to the teachers, advice on dealing with parents, and developing a student contract, for example. There was a physical problem with the CDs. There was some kind of filmy residue in the cases, and fingerprints that I was able to get off by washing, except on one of them, that only affected one track on one CD. I have received many other CDs, and no others had this problem. October 5, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Excellent for anyone who teaches This course contains some very good ideas and suggestions for teaching, both formally and informally. The lecturer is interesting to listen to - that is, he is a good teacher. I am listening to the audio version and find that I don't lose much without the video. January 28, 2016
Rated 5 out of 5 by Teaching As a novice I thought this course was very well put together. Dr. Patrick Allitt presented this course extremely well. I have learned a lot from this course and would recommend it to anyone wanting to brush up on better ways to add to your teaching techniques. I also have a better understanding of how to approach teaching and as well as being taught. Thank you. January 24, 2016
  • 2016-10-26 T09:35:14.988-05:00
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