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
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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
 |  Average 30 minutes each
  • 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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  • 86-page printed course guidebook
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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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Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator is rated 4.3 out of 5 by 81.
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Reflective or Prospective As a former medical school dean, I was responsible for ensuring an engaging curriculum in both basic sciences and clinical specialities. This necessitated hiring excellent professors, reviewing criteria for promotion and tenure, and encouraging sessions to critique teaching effeciviness. I purchased this 24-lesson course to gain from the wisdom and experience of a group of outstanding teachers led by Dr. Allitt. I was not disappointed. Especially, I appreciated his focus on effective writing and speaking, use of tried-and-true teaching methods along with new technologies, and the importance of knowing your students. In the next edition of the course, I recommend moving lecture 23 to become lecture one. This lecture establishes the value of teaching and the value of the teacher which would be a good beginning. The title of the course: "Art of Teaching: Best Practices from a Master Educator," created discussion from other professors in the course as to whether teaching is an innate gift, an art, or an acquired skill. From my experience with excellent teachers (called Golden Apples in medical schools), I believe the ability to teach is an innate gift, practiced as an art, and continually improved by learning new skills. I strongly disagree with Professor Allitt about creating a classroom atmosphere of uncomfortable anxiety. Perhaps this is residual from his Oxford education. I believe that the classroom should be comfortable such that students come prepared and are encouraged to speak. There is suffeicient peer-pressure and discomfort for the unprepared, dis-interested student. Professor Allitt is correct that university professors are not trained as teachers, but must develop their individual style. I don't think this is all bad. It seems to me that the curriculum required of primary and seconday school teachers is stultifying, and may stifle teaching excellence. However, once a person chooses to become a university professor (or teacher in any other venue) there must be on-going opportunities to learn teaching skills from outstanding teachers. Dr. Allitt discribes the method used at Emory Universtiy. This is an outstanding course for excellent teachers who want to be reflective, and for beginning teachers who want to be prospective. I recommend this course to college and universtiy deans, as well as school principals, to provide a frame-work for achieving teaching excellence.
Date published: 2011-12-02
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Invaluable Advice from a Most Wise Teacher Solicit Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation for a donation to cover the cost of TGC production for this course and make this 24-lecture series available for free to ALL teachers including home schooling moms who want to improve their craft. Imagine the ROI and benefit to all the students in America who have to sit in a classroom and suffer the foolery of their sincere but "untaught" teachers. Therein lies the biggest problem of poor teaching....the teachers are not trained in the art of teaching but teach they must day in and day out. (Government certification thus interference is of course not helpful for we all have suffered at the hands of well credentialed professionals who are terribly incompetent in spite of the paperwork attesting otherwise.) I've taught in college, professional and religious context. But when I was recently asked to teach 5 courses with 7 classes in a private secondary school (an impossibly taxing arrangement requiring a different approach to preparation, as Prof. Allitt alluded to), I turned to TGC's DVD series on the Art of Teaching to save my life and maintain sanity. Prof. Allitt understands the myriad challenges and complex nature of teaching, where the audience & formal context have as much to do with one's effectiveness as one's subject matter expertise & competency as a teacher. He has offered the necessary bird's eye view, structured the course well & offers much wisdom & very practical advice to the aspiring/struggling teacher, things like: -Plan your work NOT for complete coverage but to FACILITATE learning, therefore, plan on modifying your syllabus several times during the course. -Don't go over your syllabus on the first day like most teachers do but instead, make a HUGE impression with your enthusiasm and expertise. Regardless of your insecurity, you still knows A LOT more than your students! -In other words, AWE your students, so teach "without notes on the first day." The course has tons of invaluable advice like that which you can use directly and immediately regardless of subject matter and context. There are several highly regarded TGC professors that he interviews and showcases their classroom mannerism, as well as interviews with college students who comment on what turns them on or off, almost in a documentary fashion. But because these are provided for illustration purpose of principles he's explained very well, they are not crucial and thus I would say the audio version could have been adequate for me. The professor is British but spent the last 2 decades teaching in America and thus brings a different cultural but very helpful perspective that is insightful and beneficial to American teachers: Don't try so hard at being your students' buddy and commit "professional malpractice". Maintain a healthy distance so you can be an effective teacher.
Date published: 2011-11-19
Rated 2 out of 5 by from Not for a true master teacher If you are new to teaching or are a fairly bad teacher, this course will help and give you ideas to use in your teaching philosophy and teaching style. However, if you have been teaching for a while or are a good teacher, do not waste your time or money buying this course. It is so challenging to sit through. The teacher in this course knows what he is talking about, but really needs to take a course in delivery. He is very dry and not engaging. This is a great example of a teacher who has great knowledge in content area, but no ability to connect or teach a class.
Date published: 2011-09-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from buy this one! I have been teaching for several years and I am always looking for ways to improve my teaching style. I want to be a better professor with each passing semester. This course gives you specific ways to develop a persona, keep control of the class (make it "our special time" as Prof. Allitt puts it), and how to manage the course well by preparation. I just began a new semester and used this information in my planning stages. In my first lecture, I used some of the new techniques I learned in order to make the class time "our special time" and found that the students received that idea well. I also found that my newfound strategies led to more students coming up to me to speak individually at the end of the first lecture than in previous semesters. Bottom line: buy it. You will be glad you did.
Date published: 2011-08-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Thrilling, moving, exciting! What can you say about a series of lectures that can excite and rekindle the motivation to teach in one who has been teaching for forty years? Parts of this series are not at all germane to what I do -- teaching medical students, medical residents, and patients, but as a whole, this course was full of insights into what I have been doing wrong, what I plan to do in the near future, and rewardingly, what I have been doing right all along, mostly through chance. Buy this one!
Date published: 2011-07-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Raising my teaching to the next level..... I found this series very well done. I was pleasantly surprised to see the other 6 teachers (who were excellent and motivating -- each with a slightly different style of teaching). There were excellent tips (many I put into practice immediately in my graduate professional school classes). Since I like new ideas, I found many in this series to consider adding to my teaching. Finally, I enjoyed the fact that the materials were not presented in rigid or strict rules based manner, but instead Professor Allitt did an excellent job of encouraging the listener to find what works for the teacher and to seek feedback on how one's teaching is being perceived by the learners. Be aware that the materials are present in general for teaching at the college level, but virtually all of the points made carry over to graduate school education as well. I would highly recommend it to my fellow teachers... especially us who teach 1/2 or 3/4 time and have a full time profession on the side. Thanks Prof. Allitt - very nice job.
Date published: 2011-05-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Helpful for all teachers. I suggest buying this DVD series. Allit's teaching style is clear and to the point. I like that he has included opinions from various professors and students. His advise is practical and realistic. I have watched his series three times now. I plan on watching it all again. I am a student preparing to be a teacher. The lectures have helped with understanding the role and responsibilities of teaching. They have also helped with understanding, "what not to do". I hope to see more DVD s to help teachers improve. Maybe, Steven Pollock, can make one on "The Science of Teaching".
Date published: 2011-05-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Lifting a Strange Taboo This course addresses a great unmet need that has long been treated as taboo at the university: teaching the teachers how to teach! Professor Allitt does an excellent job of navigating some touchy subjects. Should the professor be a friend? Should students feel comfortable in class or a little uneasy? Are there common practices that transcend subject matter? How much should you talk to colleagues about teaching? How can students be induced to speak up in class? Although there are lessons that would be valuable for any level of teaching, the content is clearly aimed squarely at the university. For the first time that I have seen, here is a course that can be given to junior faculty with the expectation that they would internalize the content and apply many of the lessons in their own classroom. It would go a long way to breaking the cycle that some professors fall into of poor teaching-poor reviews-loss of interest in teaching etc. The interviews with students and master teachers are invaluable. These show a number of successful strategies tailored to different teaching styles as well as honest (but sometimes conflicting ) opinions about what does and doesn't work.
Date published: 2011-05-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Engaging & Interesting Professor Allitt is an excellent teacher of teachers! All the advice is valuable for any level of teacher.
Date published: 2011-02-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from better than teacher training I should note that I have not taken teacher training, but I'm confident that my subject line is but a minor exaggeration: this course is comprehensive, entertaining, informative and very worth your time (and money). Between chairing one set of seminars (I'm a graduate student) and the next, my approach to the material, and how I delivered it, was improved; I noticed greater participation and less distracted nattering; and I felt more confident--perhaps the most important benefit of watching this series. Whether you are a teaching assistant, a sessional, an assistant professor or even one with years of teaching under your belt, you will gain from viewing at least some of the 24 episodes. (For the experienced, jump to the 4th dvd and watch "Maintaining your enthusiasm" and "Managing the challenges of teaching".
Date published: 2011-02-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great look at the art of teaching I teach adults in a Church context and I have been doing this for many years, usually as weekly Adult Education Courses, most of which I have designed myself, and sometimes as periodic retreats or seminars. Some of the topics covered in this course do not apply to what I do. But this course has had great value for me. It has helped spur me to rethink my methods, and Dr. Allitt has given me some great new ideas about lecturing. This has helped rejuvenate my approach to teaching. A wonderful course!
Date published: 2010-12-18
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Quirky, but helpful While this course is entirely geared toward teaching college classes, the strong majority of topics covered apply to the high school environment as well. I think most of the techniques and strategies addressed in this series of lectures would be less useful, although informative and interesting, to elementary teachers. While the content is excellent, the presentation and editing of this video seem awkward and distracting. Specifically, camera cuts during Dr. Allitt's lectures while he turns and faces another camera, and the completely unnecessary and distracting cuts back to him during the interviews with other professors, pulled my focus away from the content and left me wondering :"Who decided this was good editing?". High points: Tips on first-day tactics that will help get the class of to a good start and help the students understand how they can make choices that will lead to success in the class. Suggestions for being firm without being authoritarian as the leader of the class. An emphasis on quality writing, which has become almost a foreign concepts in many high schools, outside of AP or IB courses. The 20-plus Teaching Company courses I've purchased are outstanding resources and offer extraordinary value for my financial and time investment. The Art of Teaching offers a lot of useful information, but the presentation is not what I'm used to from The Great Courses.
Date published: 2010-12-11
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Long and worthwhile This is 24 lectures, half hour long each, which means I could have seen them all in a marathon session of 12 hours. Obviously not the best way with any course. It took more than a month of watching these at night to complete the series. As an adjunct college instructor, I found them worthwhile. They covered some new ground for me, reinforced a lot of what I've known and applied already. I found Prof. Allitt's approach comfortable. He observed and interviewed several other college teachers and I found their comments perceptive. In the end, I found the series inspirational as much as anything. I had my college buy a copy, and have recommended it to other teachers.
Date published: 2010-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very Helpful! I work for a major auto manufacturing plant. As a result, I thought it would be beneficial to watch this course. I felt it would help in delivering presentations. A week after finishing the course, I was asked to be a diversity instructor. Since, then I have trained well over 20 classes. I believe the course gave me the confidence, and tools needed to be successful. I have always loved the Great Courses. I didn't realize that the information I was acquiring would be so beneficial in my career. Thank you!
Date published: 2010-12-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Useful This course basically consists of a collection of tips to help teachers be more effective. The target audience is primarily college teachers, but teachers in all situations can benefit from the course, including parents and people in teaching roles at work. Indeed, since learning is the other side of teaching, students in all situations can also benefit from the course, including the lifelong learners who patronize TTC. As other reviewers have noted, many of the tips are fairly obvious and the course could be called a bit superficial overall if one is in the mood to criticize (which is why I’ve deducted one star), but I think that most people will still find the course to be helpful, at least in terms of reminding us of things that we “know” but have not fully implemented yet (which is often the main value of “how to” courses). With respect to this course’s teaching itself, Patrick Allitt does a fine job of demonstrating his own advice, and the course also includes interviews with other teachers and students, which has the benefit of giving us multiple perspectives. To give you a better idea of the course content, here are the tips I found most worth remembering and implementing: (1) Real learning requires a lifelong commitment, and the earlier in life one begins, the better. (2) When possible, one-on-one teaching is desirable. (3) Display enthusiasm, dress appropriately, and demonstrate your expertise (including mentioning your own research where relevant). (4) Decide in advance what you want your students to remember at the end of the course and far into the future. (5) Highlight key points at the beginning of each session and summarize them at the end. (6) Don’t overload students with too much information. (7) Keep PowerPoints and other audiovisuals simple, and don’t overuse them. More traditional methods such as the blackboard still have their value. (8) Anticipate student procrastination and take steps to counteract it, such as testing and assigning homework relatively frequently. (9) Have some student participation in your sessions, and make sure it includes everyone. (10) Regularly ask students to read aloud and prepare written summaries. (11) Don’t blame yourself if all of your students don’t succeed. Motivation is the biggest factor in a student’s success, and it’s more important than the teacher or the school attended. (12) Be a teacher only if you really enjoy it. Otherwise, you’ll do a disservice to both yourself and your students.
Date published: 2010-11-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from The Teacher's Perspective I was drawn to this course because I'm 62 years old and engaged in a second master's level program on-line. My brain is rusty but my goal is (1) to learn everything that is relevant, and (2) my quantitative target is to make a grade of A. To facilitate this I wanted to gain the teacher's perspective. I've never been a full-time academic teacher but have taken tons of courses. Life-long learning is part of my persona. This course helped me, as a learner, understand basic philosophical aspects of teaching. The course emphasized what the teacher values and why. I was so engaged that I went through the DVDs every night because Professor Allitt was knowledgable, organized, energetic, full of ideas, and included the perspective of other professors and students. I also ordered the print version because I like to highlight and jot notes as I view the DVD. I was somewhat disappointed in the printed version of the lectures. I expect anything related to teaching to use correct punctuation and grammar. While Dr. Allitt does have a charming British accent, sometimes his words were printed incorrectly. For example, "cheap" was printed instead of "chief." There were numerous errors like this; punctuation and spelling were below par, as well. I was distracted by these errors and about half-way through I started noting the problems. Perhaps this is a technology problem. Since I like to read along with the professor, this may become a problem for me because it is distracting. I have limited time for the course since I work all day as a fee-only financial planner and research and write papers at night for the M.S. degree. Overall, I thought Dr. Allitt did an amazing job and that I, as a student, will benefit from a better understanding of the teacher's perspective. He also gave some interesting insight into the educational and intellectual pursuit of credentials to become a college professor. I expect that I will reread the printed version of his lectures because the information is helpful and I marked many passages that I thought were relevant to my needs. I hope that the limited punctuation will not interefere with Dr. Allitt's intended message since his voice will not be there to guide me while rereading..
Date published: 2010-11-07
Rated 2 out of 5 by from far too elemental I was very disappointed in this series. I have no formal teaching education and yet I had "discovered" almost all the principles and most of the practices just from the trial and error process of teaching young adults in a weekly professional seminar. Other Teaching Company Courses have been very engaging and informative; the delivery of this course was dry and boring.
Date published: 2010-10-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Outstanding wisdom This course provides thoughtful, reflective wisdom about how we teach, citing techniques that work and those less likely produce effective results. The course is heart-felt wisdom shared by gifted educators. Their collective wisdom will inspire me for a long time into the future. I feel grateful for this meaningful work.
Date published: 2010-09-16
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Wise Investment I have been teaching university courses and adult education programs for 30 years so I ordered this course to study best practices and get new ideas for my teaching. The professor's style is great because it relates well to both experienced and new educators. I especially liked the interviews that were done with students and other professors to explore various instructional techniques. I picked up some very good methods that I will incorporate into my teaching. I recommend this course to anyone who teaches at the high school level and up; especially to those who teach in a business setting. Every manager is a teacher and the material is valuable to all managers.
Date published: 2010-08-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Surprising value I teach adult education workshops and found the course very helpful. Although I am not a trained teacher, it confirmed that I am doing most things the right way. I was able to pick up a lot of tips from all of the presenters and Dr. Allitt in particular. I moved to the US from Britain almost 40 years go so I enjoyed listening to his voice and accent as it reminded me of my own youth. Many thanks to The Teaching Company for adding more of these practical courses to your roster.
Date published: 2010-07-10
Rated 1 out of 5 by from Lacklustre While the topic sounds good, ironically, the presentation itself is knock-me-out boring! The speech is so monotone and slow, with so much unnecessary information, I don't know if I can even bring myself to spend anymore time trying to get something out of it. My suggestion: Speed it up! Speak with some enthusiasm, and stick to the pertinent facts. I have found several other Teaching Company videos to be in the same unappealing format, so I'm assuming this is coming from the production management.
Date published: 2010-07-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The REAL orientation to college teaching After watching Dr. Allitt's presentation, I immediately purchased a second copy of The Art of Teaching for a fellow faculty member with whom I share responsibilities for teaching a seminar. Dr. Allitt walks through the many skill sets that college teachers must master, but are rarely taught as part of their training. He presents each topic with careful pacing, scrupulous organization, clarity, and a deep sense of conviction. As a result of watching this series, I feel empowered to hold my students to a higher standard of performance. I think that every college should present each new faculty member with a gift box of this lecture series as part of orientation.
Date published: 2010-06-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Pure Gold Professor Allitt's course is absolute GOLD for anyone aspiring to teach in higher education or continuing education. There was value in every minute of this set. Prof. Allitt's lectures are full of practical insights and are delivered in an exemplary way. They are punctuated by actual scenes from college classes and interviews with other excellent teachers and reflective students. I keep wondering what it would be like if every college (and high school) instructor had access to this series and took it seriously. The teaching profession would take a giant leap forward! Yes, highly recommended.
Date published: 2010-06-09
Rated 3 out of 5 by from useful but missed some important research Prof Allitt talks and presents well. I did enjoy the use of the other Professors as they showed interesting differences in style. Also, the student interviews were good. However, Prof Allitt used his own classes too much and it was easy to see where he broke his own rules. It would have been much better to use other classes and other teachers more. Also, there is too much repetition of ideas which are mostly based on his preferences.For example, he repeats, the need for students not to eat, not wear caps, nor use computers in class. But when the presentation switches to Prof Roberto you could see all these rules broken. I could only imagine a student who went from Prof Roberto's class into Prof Allitt's class and the frustration that this student would feel. What this indicates to me is that these issue are trivial. I would have much prefered he spent more time on discussing the techniques that a teacher uses to improve student learning. For example, Prof Robert Marzano and Prof John Hattie have published significant research on the details of instructional strategies that work. But Prof Allitt makes no mention of this. Also, he does not mention the significant work of Prof Richard Elmore from Harvard and Prof Michael Fullan from Canada on the strategies to improve every teacher at a systemic level. Also, his lecture on assessment made no mention of the issues regarding value biases of teachers when they mark essays. The research is very clear here - essays assessment is prone to value bias. I also noted the differences between each of the Professor's values regarding assessment. For example, Prof Roberto uses a Business model (a certain % of students must fail) and Prof Hale a "I hope all students get an A+" model. This posses a major problem of reliability between the two professors. THis demonstrates that between just two professors there are two TOTALLY different standards. What is the implication of this across a whole educational system of Universities and high school's. Prof Allitt admits he is privileged with small classes, significant support staff and equipment, only 1-2 courses to teach per semester, students choose his subject, he can control his curriculum and he teaches in his area of expertise. Compare this to the average Primary or High School teacher who teach large classes, take 6 or more course per semester, have little or no support staff, who are constrained by outside curriculum, have students who have to study their course and are often required to teach outside their areas of expertise. This presents significant issues that Prof Allitt should have addressed. So overall, some of the material was useful but I think a lot more depth of discussion was needed.
Date published: 2010-06-08
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Departure that Works DVD. This is not the typical TTC approach of presenting the scholarship on a particular subject. Rather, it is a more subjective collection of best practices. Even so, the approach works. While the focus is that of teaching on the college level, it is readily generalized to a broad range of presentations such as teaching secondary schools, leading book clubs or Bible studies, making business presentations, etc. While Dr. Allitt is an excellent teacher, perhaps even a master teacher, teaching is not his specialization. Further, I would not consider all of the other “master teachers” who more or less co-teach the course to be up to TTC standards. Still, the principles presented in this course are beneficial. The course is worthwhile.
Date published: 2010-06-02
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Put to Immediate Use I was able to take the advice from this series and put it to good use immediately. The sections on writing and editing were much better than I’ve heard anywhere else, even from Building Great Sentences, which deals with fiction writing and not academic writing. I hope Professor Allitt does another series on teaching that gets more into the particulars of academic writing. Students too often graduate high school without knowing how to write an essay, term, or professional paper.
Date published: 2010-05-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Conduct not Pedagogy Unlike most other Teaching Company courses, this one is more of a "know how" rather than a "know that" course. It is not a pedagogy course, but is more concerned with how to construct and conduct a class or course. While many of the ideas are applicable in a secondary classroom (I didn't see much that was applicable at the primary level), the course is really aimed at teaching adult learners. There is a good deal of methodology presented, most of it is not central to the individual lectures. As such, I would highly recommend the course to anyone who must deal with adult learners in a structured learning environment, especially those with little to no pedagogical training, but the material becomes less useful when dealing with younger and younger students. Teachers working in a public school system will find that Prof. Allitt does not subscibe to much of the fad-ism that they find in many of their own professional development activities. Consequently they may or may not find points of disagreement, depending on individual educational philosophy. As a long-time classroom teacher, I found Prof. Allitt's approach to be very practical, although not always applicable to my particular circumstances. Because of that varying applicability, I have a hard time justifying a 5-star overall rating, but the course is certainly well worth the time.
Date published: 2010-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Life changer I have been teaching law students and lawyers for over 20 years, and found this program profoundly wise, inspiring, and useful beyond any expectation. It may be my favorite Teaching Company dvd. If you are a teacher of any kind you must listen to this brilliant and insightful course; it will change your approach to teaching by both confirming much of what you do, and helping you to let go of things that are not useful. My thanks to the Teaching Company for this wonderful product.
Date published: 2010-05-22
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Too Repetitive I'm not a teacher but am involved in teaching activities and found some of Dr. Allit's advise helpful (particurlary the lecture on power point) but I also thought that it was overly repetitive (topics such as "Be enthusiastic") and that there were too many examples from his classroom.
Date published: 2010-05-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presentation Excellent program on teaching. Every college teacher, rookie and veteran can learn from this program. I wish these DVDs had been available when I first started teaching.
Date published: 2010-05-09
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