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I have requested a teaching consultation from my university's Center for Teaching & Learning. First I'll meet with a couple of consultants, then they'll observe my regular class, and then they'll meet with me again to give me feedback on the classroom observation.

I'm not a very experienced teacher, I don't really know what I'm doing right or wrong, so I don't know what to ask the consultants to focus on. Except for one or two things related to challenges I'm having with the particular class I'm teaching right now, I don't have anything specific in mind to ask them about.

Does anyone have any suggestions for making the most of a teaching consultation? Anything specific I can ask them to focus on that might prove especially useful?

  • Nice question, +1. Likely the consultants will know better than random strangers on the internet that don't even know your class size... ;-) – Stephan Kolassa Feb 11 '15 at 13:48
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    I've never been involved in a "teaching consultation" that wasn't in-department, so I don't know quite what this will be like, but one thing you could do is look at previous student evaluations (including midterm ones for this semester if you've done any) to see what issues students may have brought up about your past lecturing and ask they have opinions on those points. – Kimball Feb 11 '15 at 14:24
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Ideally you want to focus on teaching components that you would not ordinarily notice yourself.

I do not have previous experience with teaching consultations, but I can suggest some facets of teaching that are difficult to improve without others' feedback. Especially when you are speaking, there are things you miss because you are focusing on choosing your words.

  • Body language and conveyed impressions
  • Mannerisms, e.g. 'like...', 'um', 'ah'
  • Volume and pace of speaking
  • Eye direction (are you looking at the students, or do you look upwards when thinking?)
  • Students' facial expressions and body language (what do they think of this specific class and why?)

Conversely, there are some facets of your teaching you will notice by yourself in time, and are not particularly benefited by feedback:

  • The clarity of your material (diagrams, slideshows, images). It may be more worthwhile to review this in your own time.
  • Which parts of your content are difficult for students
  • Whether students feel confident to interact
  • What lesson structures work better
  • Students' overall feelings about the course (assuming you have course feedback forms)

I hope you make the most out of this opportunity!

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As per Kimball's suggestion, I collected midterm feedback from my students the week before the consultants' visit. (Specifically, I did the one-point raise survey.)

I scanned all the responses and emailed them to the consultants, and we discussed specific steps I could take to improve my effectiveness as a teacher in this course, given some valid points raised by the students.

Then, during the classroom observation, they were able to make a note of whether it seemed we had successfully addressed those issues.

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