FAQs for student teachers

Here is a collection of answers to FAQs and proposed solutions for the various challenges which student teachers may face in connection with their teaching.
The answers were collected from former student teachers at the Faculty of Arts and have been processed by Vibe Kromann.   

 

What do I do if my students are chit-chatting and disturbing my teaching?

  • Start a discussion to give them something relevant to talk about instead
  • Make sure that your exercises can be stopped as soon as most students have finished so no-one starts talking
  • If everyone needs to do the exercise, have some extra exercises/questions up your sleeve for the students who finish quickly
  • Stop talking – the students will stop talking if you do
  • Make a joke out of it or take a break.

How do I maintain my students’ focus?

  • Don’t lecture too much – lessons are a chance to do exercises instead
  • Don’t spend too much time teaching in front of the blackboard – make the students present things at the blackboard instead
  • Keep the students busy doing various kinds of exercises and vary the forms of instruction that you use

How do I get my students to answer questions/do exercises in class?

  • Ask a student directly: Do you want to answer this one? This gives them the chance to say no, although they rarely do say no
  • Ask them to do as much of an exercise as they can, and ask the other students to do the rest
  • Ask everyone in turn to answer a question, read aloud or contribute in other ways
  • Ask the students to discuss their answers in pairs before answering in class.

My students are reluctant to give presentations in class. What can I do?

  • Change the format to make it more informal, for instance by asking them to discuss things in groups instead of presenting things at the blackboard
  • Make the purpose of the exercise clear: Is it about learning to make oral presentations, about learning from each other, or about structuring things in a short amount of time?
  • Make a plan so the study groups always know when they have to make a presentation – don’t take them by surprise.

How do I get my students to attend if the course is not mandatory?

  • Talk to the teacher and get him/her to recommend your classes in the lectures
  • Tell the students how your classes can help them in the exam
  • Keep an attendance list. Tell them that you’re doing this to find out how many students are interested in student teacher sessions
  • Ask the students to do a compulsory activity, such as a writing exercise, in connection with your classes.

How do I get my students to prepare for the lessons?

  • Ask the study groups to make presentations in turn, and explain how this will be done in the first lesson. This ensures that at least one group has prepared something for each session
  • Give the students group exercises to do in their study groups instead of individual exercises
  • Use a type of exercise in which you can be actively involved. For instance, ask the students to make summaries and upload them to the learning platform or as a contribution to Wikispaces.

How do I make sure that my lessons can be adjusted if I miscalculate how long things will take?

  • Have a lot of examples up your sleeve (some of which take longer than others)
  • If you are pressed for time, give the students some of the answers before they even start
  • Bring along extra (preferably short) exercises to use when necessary  
  • Prioritise your material so you know what needs to be done and what can be skipped
  • Try not to have too much unfinished business which has to be dealt with in the next session. Unfinished business can ruin your plan for the entire semester.

What do I do if the students ask questions I can’t answer?

  • Tell them: ‘I don’t know, but I can find out for next time’
  • (Remember to find the answer if you have promised to do so)
  • Tell them: ‘I don’t know – but does anyone have any suggestions?’
  • Tell them: ‘I don’t know, but I think you can find the answer here...’

How do I find out whether my students have understood the main points of the lesson?

  • Ask: Does everybody understand? Does this make sense?
  • Ask them to write down two of the main points of the lesson and talk about a few of these points with the entire class
  • Ask the students to write down five questions about the topic at the beginning of the lesson. If these questions have not been answered during the lesson, answer them when you round off
  • Make a brief evaluation.

There are both English-speaking and Danish-speaking students in my class. How do I cope when English is the language of instruction?

  • Make it clear that the students can ask questions in Danish if this makes them more comfortable
  • Make it clear that no-one expects their English to be perfect
  • Make it clear that they can ask for concepts to be translated so they can learn the Danish terms.

I get nervous when teaching – how do I deal with this?

  • Get to know the classroom and hear what your voice sounds like in there
  • Make a clear lesson plan and notes/prints of your slides
  • Make sure that the technical aids work and have a backup plan
  • Get the students involved quickly
  • Take deep breaths and take small breaks
  • Curl your toes, and then relax them
  • Look at certain fixed points in the room or right above the heads/at the forehead of someone in the audience. 

How do I handle negative evaluations?

  • Remember that they are assessing the teaching and not you as a person
  • Don’t focus too much on negative evaluations – there are probably a lot more positive ones
  • Use the evaluations constructively and learn from them  
  • For instance, you can do a Delphi evaluation to see how many of the students agree with different statements.

Good advice from former student teachers

Here is some good advice from former student teachers at the Faculty of Arts. 

Any other questions?

Please contact Karen Louise Møller, who is the academic contact person for the basic training course for student teachers.  

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