Chapter 6 of The Skillful Teacher by Brookfield is about creative lecturing. There are some really awesome tips in this chapter about how to lecture effectively, and my favorite of his is to introduce buzz groups into lectures.
As a new instructor, I am hyper-aware of making sure I am not talking ‘at’ students. By incorporating pauses in a lecture to encourage discussion between the students, I can accomplish this while still delivering the information that I need to.
The whole idea that lectures should be broken up, and that it can be done in a variety of ways is helpful for any instructor. It can be difficult to remember to pause, or stop when you really get going on a topic. I know that for my intention to be executed, I would have to create an itinerary inside the lesson plan to remind myself of when I should pose a question, or encourage conversation that will support the topic.
Brookfield includes in his writing that Bligh (2000) proposes approximately 12 minutes as the optimum period of time in which students can be expected to listen to uninterrupted talk that focuses on one idea or subtheme. Brookfield suggests a number of great ways to engage students after chunks of lecture. I imagine that being able to apply the learned material shortly after being exposed to it would assist with retention as well.
I also like the concept of ‘scaffolding notes’ that Brookfield explains. I have used this in a slightly different way while instructing by simply writing out a ‘Today We Will’ checklist on a whiteboard or chalkboard. This was something I did when first starting out as an instructor, more to keep me on track than anything else. There were times I doubted it made much difference to the students, until one day I forgot to update the list and was badgered by two students halfway through the morning expressing their displeasure that there was not a daily agenda. Having notes outlined on a handout like Brookfield suggests would be nice for the students though. That way they can write notations beside the items that they may need to review or didn’t feel they could fully comprehend.
This chapter was insightful for me. Much like Brookfield explains in the final thoughts of the chapter, I have had fleeting thoughts that traditional lecture is being phased out or is somewhat archaic. However, the suggestions and ideas in this chapter really make sense to me, and I feel like I have some new arsenal that will make traditional lecturing more interactive and interesting for the students, and fun and fresh for me as well.