Teacher centered to Student focused – an ongoing Journey

The course in Teaching and Learning in Higher Education that I did back in November 2011 cumulated with an assessment, which I have recently completed and had returned to me. I was really pleased, as not only was it returned with kind comments about both the assignment and the teaching that I had done, but also a request to use my paper as an example assignment – a ‘shining example’ as the marker eloquently put it. This completed module has not only earned me a grade A for a 20 M level credit point towards a Teaching and Learning in Higher Education qualification but meant that I’m now an Associate Fellow of the Higher Education Academy.

The story of the assignment that I wrote was about my teaching journey – paradoxically a learning journey for me. I’ve quit a bit of experience in teaching (instructing) small groups, usually about 4 or 6, in informal environments. My own performance in such situations is usually irrelevant to me, my focus is on the students and what they are getting from the experience. Thus, I thought that lecturing to 40+ undergraduates would come easily to me. It didn’t. Throughout the lecture I relaxed, but I never felt as comfortable as I normally would teaching, and I didn’t have the headspace available to worry about whether the students were really learning optimally. Naturally, my self consciousness eased over the lectures that I did and by the last one I felt happy and confident.

This experience really impressed on me how flexible teaching experience is. How in one situation, I can be gauche and teacher centered, and in another I can completely concentrate on the needs of the students. Learning to teach and present is clearly not a linear experience.