Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Streamlining the teaching process

I apologize for the blogging hiatus. We’ve been nearing the completion of our projects, with Rachel and Liz putting the finishing touches on the alumni party, Elana and Karna conducting more interviews than ever, and Jordan and I finalizing our instructors manual and PowerPoint presentations.

Stemming from an idea between Jordan and Joe, Jordan and I have started working on creating a brief, 2-hour workshop for volunteer instructors. Since many AE volunteers are professionals who don’t necessarily have teaching experience, we believe that creating a workshop would be a helpful way to increase the quality of AE’s courses. From first hand experience as a teaching assistant back in Public Policy 55 back at Duke, I can say that teaching a course is very challenging, if you haven't taught in a classroom setting before.

I’ve spent several days researching some basic teaching strategies, especially for adult learners. Unlike young students, adults take classes for different reasons. In the case of AE, adults take classes to improve their knowledge about running their own micro-enterprises. From our experience attending classes and talking to volunteers and AE staff, we feel like focusing on the connection between the instructor and students would help the micro-entrepreneurs pay better attention and further enjoy their classes. Engaging the micro-entrepreneurs, rather than lecturing to them can go a long way in helping the classes run smoothly and effectively. Helping bring consistency to the way that volunteers are briefly trained should improve the courses across the board.

Unfortunately, we only have two weeks left. In the time we have left, we hope to lay the groundwork for a trial program at Norponiente that future interns can expand, including informational videos with advice from former instructors.

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