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The project had its origins in a conversation about teaching at a meeting
of the Executive Board of the Organization of American Historians several
years ago, when two of the authors were members of the board. There was
general agreement among the experienced scholars and teachers present that
day that most beginning college instructors-graduate students having their
first experiences as teaching assistants, new Ph.D.'s starting their first
teaching jobs-received little or no training in how to deal with the
classroom before they entered it. Primary and secondary school teachers
ordinarily receive teacher training in education schoolsor departments.
College and university teachers, by contrast, are usually trained
intensively in their disciplines (history, English, economics, physics,
and so on), but seldom in the craft of teaching itself. There is a
growing, and heartening, movement in some graduate programs to incorporate
teacher training into the traditional curriculum. But it remains the case
that many, perhaps most, new college teachers design their courses and
enter their classrooms for the first time without very much guidance from
anyone. This book was written with them in mind. We call it a "handbook"
because, while we think many teachers may wish to read it in its entirety,
we believe others may wish to consult it periodically for help in dealing
with particular questions or problems.
We do not claim here to present a coherent theory of teaching or learning.
There are many such theories, and they are the subject of a large and
valuable literature produced by scholars of education and others. Our
goal, however, is the simpler one of answering common logistical questions
and using our own experiences in the classroom to offer ideas and lessons
that we think other teachers might find useful. In ten relatively brief
chapters, we have tried to present practical suggestions for dealing with
some of the basic aspects of college teaching: designing a course,
preparing for the first class, leading a discussion, managing classroom
dynamics, delivering a lecture, supervising research and writing, giving
and grading exams, evaluating your own teaching, dealing with diversity
issues, and making use of new electronic resources.
There are, needless to say, many issues related to teaching that this book
does not address, and many ideas, techniques, and innovations for the
classroom beyond those we have included. Both new and experienced teachers
have many other resources from which they can draw as they try to improve
their students', and their own, classroom experiences. We suggest some
such resources in our brief bibliography, but there are also many others.
One problem that all teachers face to which we cannot offer any simple
solutions is the problem of time. People outside the academic world often
think of college or university teachers as people who live uniquely
leisured lives. Those of us who actually work in academia know otherwise.
Many of us enjoy more extended vacations than do people in most other
professions, it is true. But during the teaching year, we are often
compelled to balance an overwhelming number of commitments and
responsibilities within a painfully short period of time: teaching
classes, advising, grading, serving on committees, commuting, meeting
obligations to families and communities, and so forth. Some teachers have
very heavy course loads and can find very little time for each of the many
preparations demanded of them. Other teachers have part-time jobs,
sometimes several of them, and must scramble to find new work even as they
are finishing the old. Many college teachers have to balance their
teaching obligations against the pressure to do research and to publish,
which are often prerequisites to professional survival.
No one will have time to implement all the suggestions in this book-let
alone the many other ideas and suggestions available in other sources.
Some people will have little time for any of them. We realize, therefore,
that our prescriptions for teaching successfully will, in the world most
teachers inhabit, need to be balanced against what is possible in
pressured and difficult professional lives.
But teaching is a cumulative art. We learn over time, just as our students
do. Things you have no time to try one year may be possible in another. A
course that begins shakily may improve after two or three tries, and as
you slowly incorporate new methods and techniques into your teaching. You
should not be discouraged when the realities of your professional life
make it hard to enhance your teaching quickly. Do what you can in the time
you have, and over several years-if you keep working at it-your teaching
will get better.
All of the authors of this book are historians, and our common experience
in a single discipline has undoubtedly shaped the way we think about
teaching. Teachers of English or psychology or chemistry or any other
discipline would undoubtedly produce a rather different book. But almost
everything we present here is, we believe, applicable to teaching in other
fields-certainly to other disciplines in the humanities and social
sciences, much of it also to the natural sciences and to the professional
Teaching, particularly for the first time, can be a lonely and
intimidating experience. We hope that the material we present here will
make the experience less daunting and more rewarding-both for instructors
and for their students.
Excerpted from The Chicago Handbook for Teachers
by Alan Brinkley, Betty Dessants, Michael Flamm, Cynthia Fleming, Charles Forcey, and Eric Rothschild
Copyright © 2003
by University of Chicago.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
|2||The First Weeks||17|
|4||The Art and Craft of Lecturing||51|
|5||Student Writing and Research||65|
|6||Testing and Evaluation||85|
|7||Evaluating Your Teaching||101|
|8||Teaching as a Graduate Student||117|
|9||Teaching Inclusively in a Multicultural Age||133|
|10||Using Electronic Resources for Teaching||143|
|Afterword: Why Do We Teach?||169|
|Suggestions for Further Reading||171|
|About the Authors||177|