Preparing for a Teaching Audition


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At this time of year, departments focus on hiring qualified staff to teach adjunct classes and fill full time positions for the fall.  Most departments like to have classes staffed before faculty leave campus for the summer. Therefore, this is a great time to check for adjunct openings, one year contracts, and full-time positions. It is also a good time to begin to think about preparing for a teaching audition. As colleges begin to sort through resumes or curriculum vitas (CVs), they will identify qualified candidates and begin to invited them in for a teaching audition.

What is a teaching audition?
A teaching audition is part of the hiring process. Prospective teaching candidates are invited to demonstrate their ability to teach in front of a panel of comprised of administrators or staff as well as full time faculty members. The candidate will be asked to prepare a lesson that they would teach to a class of students. This provides the panel with the opportunity to see candidate in action. Not only will they have the opportunity to evaluate pedagogy, but also the candidate’s knowledge of the content. The panel will participate in and evaluate the audition and determine whether to recommend the candidate for hire.

Preparing for a Teaching Audition
When preparing for a mini teach, there are several things to keep in mind:

1. Demonstrate your content expertise. There will be faculty from your discipline in the panel. They will know if you are in command of the content or not. Sometimes, a department may provide a topic for the candidate to lecture on. Other times, the candidate will be given the freedom to select a topic of his/her choice. Regardless, it’s important to demonstrate content expertise.  Be prepared!joao-silas-51725
Important to Note: Sometimes, there will also be faculty from different disciplines or staff and administrators present who are not familiar with your content (similar to the students you will instruct). This is important to consider as you prepare your lesson – do not assume your audience knows the content. Explain concepts thoroughly!

2. Make sure that you have developed a lesson that can be  presented in the time allotted. Ask how much time you will have to teach and prepare a lesson accordingly.

3. Ensure that you have different types of learning activities built into your lesson. Lecture, videos, and interactive learning activities demonstrate that you are a dynamic teacher. As you prepare your lesson, ask yourself “Would I want to be a student in my class?”.

jeremy-yap-1607134. Find out what type of technology will be available to use during the teaching audition. This will allow you to prepare accordingly. Make sure that you have access to a computer and projector. If you do not, adjust your presentation and materials accordingly. Prepare your materials in advance and bring them with you. Have handouts prepared and printed out in advance. Bring a clicker to advance the slides so that you can freely move through the classroom.  Consider bringing white board markers or any other materials you may need available during your lesson.

5. Ask questions and call on your “students”. Make sure that you call on people in your audience to answer questions. You would call on students to check for understanding in your classes; therefore, incorporate questions into your lesson.

6. Practice. practice, practice! It’s important to go over the lesson several times to ensure that it flows well and it meets the required amount of time without going over. Some departments will stop a candidate when their audition time is up. If you do not properly plan, you could be cut off before wrapping up your lesson. The panel may question your ability to plan effectively. Use family and friends as “students” to practice your lesson. They can provide feedback, whether they know information about the content you’re presenting or not.

7. Finally, dress professionally! This is your first impression on many of the people in the department who you wish to work with, so make a good impression.

Preparing for a teaching audition is important for anyone interested in working in higher education. Are there specific questions you have about teaching auditions? Leave a comment with your questions, and we will answer them in a future blog!

Photo Credit: @mikael_k and @joaosilas and @jeremyyappy
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Adjunct Classes

IMG_2549Have you ever considered teaching at a college community college or university? Did you know that to be qualified to teach at a community college or university that you do not need to have a degree in education? There is a misconception that one must have formal training in education in order to teach at a college or university. In order to teach bachelor level students, a Master degree in the discipline is required and to teach graduate level courses, a PhD or EdD is required. In order to teach, you must hold one degree higher and a minimum of 18 credit hours in the subject.

Colleges and universities seek professionals in the field to teach classes. Working professionals often make the best adjunct instructors, because of their theoretical and practical knowledge of a subject. Thus, being an adjunct instructor is a great way to share expert knowledge, with undergraduate or graduate students, based on personal experience in the field. It’s a great way to pour into students who will eventually become your colleagues in the field.

This is also a great way to earn some extra cash, which could be used to pay off student loan debt. Compensation will vary depending upon where you are working, the modality of the class, the number of students, and the length of the class. The type of class (undergraduate vs. graduate) that you are teaching may also impact the amount earned.

IMG_2463Teaching adjunct classes can be life changing. I began teaching at a community college when I was 25 years old. I was hired to teach sign language classes at a community college and really loved the experience. This shaped the future of my career. Not only did I love working with college students, but I also loved being back on a college campus. Going to class two nights a week and sharing my knowledge of sign language and the deaf culture with students was an invigorating experience. I found it provided with a different type of energy than I experienced when I would walk in to an elementary or high school setting. I desired to do more in the college setting; therefore, I pursued my PhD.

The opportunity that I was afforded at the community college teaching changed the direction of my life. It could change yours too. I strongly encourage you to consider additional ways that you can contribute to your field by teaching at a community college or university.

Extra Credit

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Extra credit! These are two words that I hear a lot at this time in the semester. “Dr. Terry, is there extra credit that I can do to improve my grade?” Often, students don’t worry about their grade until the last minute – the end of the semester. This can put a lot of strain on professors at the end of the semester. Grading deadlines and other responsibilities can be compounded if extra credit assignments are accepted and must also be graded. For this reason, it is important to have a plan.

So, what’s yours? How will you address students who come to you at the end of the semester and ask for extra credit? If you haven’t thought about this, it could catch you off guard, and you could make a decision that makes the end of the semester even more stressful for you.

While it’s important to ensure that students have the opportunity to be successful in your class, it is not a professor’s responsibility to plan extra credit activities for students who didn’t come to class regularly, participate, turn in assignments on time, turn in quality assignments, attend office hours for help if they were struggling, and study. During the semester, I remind my students that I do not award extra credit opportunities under any circumstance at the end of the semester. I’m flexible, and I work with them throughout the semester if circumstances arise and they communicate with me. On each assessment, I include an extra credit question to help them improve their score if they miss a question. I also provide the opportunity to attend an event or complete and optional activity to make up participation points a couple of times throughout the semester. But, I do not go out of my way and inconvenience myself at the end of the semester to help a student who didn’t plan and prepare effectively during the semester. Their lack of planning will not cause me to be frantic at the end of the semester.

Students need to learn to be responsible and if that means earning a “B” instead of the desired “A” maybe in their next class, they work a little bit harder, during the semester, instead of waiting until the end.

So what is your policy? Share your tips with us. Let us know how you deal with those two dreaded words – Extra Credit!

Sharing Personal Beliefs


Happy Easter! With the holiday weekend in full effect, we thought it was a perfect time to talk about sharing personal beliefs in your classes. How many of you openly share your religious and political views in your classes? Is this something you are comfortable doing?

Controversial topics, like religion, politics, and even money, can be uncomfortable to discuss with colleagues, family, and friends. In our profession, it can also be rather uncomfortable sharing this information with students. We were raised with the understanding of time and place when discussing these matters. It is sometimes hard to gauge what your audience knows, thinks, or believes. Therefore, we learn to tread lightly around these topics, because discussions can quickly become heated and feelings can be easily hurt.

Controversial topics often come up in class discussions. Maybe the topic is part of the curriculum. A student may pose a question that addresses a topic of controversy. Or maybe as the instructor, you pose the question as a way to generate discussion. As an educator, there are times when you will need to present impartial views as this allows students to evaluate information and come to their own conclusion – form their own opinion – on a topic.  There will be other times when it will be just as important to share your own personal perspectives and the criteria you used to cultivate your views. For example, a justice studies faculty member supporting ex-convicts right to vote or a faculty member sharing personal religious beliefs. Perhaps, you have thought about sharing information (or you have shared information) and questioned whether it was the right thing to do – “Is this information ok to share in my class?”

Questions To Ask Before You Share
There are a number of ways to approach controversial topics. Begin the semester by cultivating a climate of respect. Teach students to appropriately express their personal opinions on topics.

When a topic of controversy comes up, you should consider and determine if and how to address the topic. You may deem this topic is better to avoid. If this is something that needs to be share and discussed, the questions below can assist in gauging the appropriate amount of information to share.

  • Is it relevant to the course and/or course material being discussed?
  • Do I feel comfortable sharing this information?
  • What would it sound like if this were to be shared outside of the classroom?
  • Why am I sharing this information?
  • Am I creating a hostile environment for my students?
  • Is this helping my students learn?

Personal Example
One of the most difficult things to negotiate is how much you should share regarding religious beliefs. I am a Christian, and I’ve wondered how much to share with my students. After nearly a decade of teaching, I believe in being authentically myself. I do not impose my beliefs on my students, but I do share who I am with them. I talk about going to church, praying, and observing holidays like Good Friday, Easter, and Christmas. I have taught for both private and public institutions and have prayed with students in both settings. Often, the students I pray with have approached me, but on the occasions when I did invite a student to pray with me, I noticed artifacts, such as a cross necklace or tattoo, that lead me to believe he/she would be open to my invitation.

Educate Yourself
It is important to familiar yourself with university policies as well as the mission statement, doctrinal statement, and other documents that define your institution’s values. Also, if you’re not sure what is appropriate to share in class, make an appointment with your department chair or talk with a full-time faculty.

Consider the environment where you are teaching, the audience you are teaching, and who you are. Are there examples you can use to illustrate a topic that do not revolve around controversy? Will sharing this particular example stir up a problem? Will failing to share cause you discomfort,  because you are not being true to yourself? This is definitely a topic to consider sooner rather than later, because it is only a matter of time before a controversial topic comes up in your class.

Are there specific strategies you use to address topics of controversy and personal beliefs? Share your strategies below.

Professional Conferences

We love going to conferences! Traveling to a new city and learning new things are two of our favorite things! It’s always a bonus to connect with other professionals. We recently traveled to New Orleans for a professional conference where we got to experience all of the above.

There are numerous ways to maximize the experience.  Attending sessions at the conference, networking with other conference attendees, and sightseeing are some of the best ways to make the most of every conference. If you follow us on social media, you’ll see we did all of these things recently at the Online Learning Consortium (OLC) Innovate Conference in NOLA!

We presented – Using Technology to Enhance Group Work in the Blended Learning Setting – with a colleague.  We shared tips for using various technologies; many of these have been described in previous blog posts; however, we focused the tips we shared on how these technologies can enhance group work in various modalities. We also met with book publishers to discuss textbooks and resources for our classes. Additionally, we connected with faculty from other institutions to share best practices and exchanged contact information to stay in contact.

Attending a professional conference can be extremely beneficial! The new ideas that attendees and presenters gain can be implemented upon returning home. You can learn from others and enhance knowledge and skills that will help you be a better educator. Attending conferences helps you to remain current within your discipline or in the field. You may take an idea you gained from a session and implemented it into your classes. You may learn about a new, innovative technology that you can incorporate to enhance an activity. You may gain useful information to share with others in your department. Presenting at a professional conference is a great way to enhance your CV. Finally, the energy and momentum that is gained from being with like-minded individuals at a professional conference are motivating. Attendees often returned refreshed and ready to try new things. It reignites a spark and passion for teaching.

After conference attendance and networking, we enjoyed seeing the city! Conference cities are often stimulated by participants spending money at local establishments and visiting the local sites. So enjoy the city! New Orleans has so much history and culture. The locals are very nice and friendly. And the food was unlike anything we had ever experienced. So get out and make the most of the experience! Then, when you come back home, share what you learned with your students and colleagues.

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Begin to research professional conferences to attend. Ask if your department or university provides funding to attend professional conferences. If not, consider attending with another colleague to share some of the expenses, like travel (carpool) or hotel. Make it a goal to attend or present at one professional conference every year!IMG_1946


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Remind is a text messaging application that assists educators to communicate in real time with students. This easy to use application can send messages to an entire class, a small group, or an individual student. In addition to sending reminders, documents can also be attached and sent using this messaging service.

Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 9.50.09 AMSeveral years ago, I was introduced to Remind (at the time, it was called Remind 101). This resource quickly became one of my favorite teaching tools, and it still is today. Remind allows instructors to send text messages to students. Student can voluntarily sign up and receive text message reminders. Instructors can create different classes or groups for students to join. I set up one group for each class I am teaching in a given semester. Student can elect to sign up for Remind messages (I do not make this mandatory). Instructors can send announcements, reminders, or attachments using the app.

Students do not always consistently sign-in to the Learning Management System (LMS). In addition, they receive an excessive number of emails. It is easy to miss or overlook important information that is being posted or emailed. This app provides an easy and efficient way to send students information that they will have immediate access to, because they rarely are without a cell phone.

I use remind in a variety of ways. For example…

  • Please remember to bring …..
  • Class is being move to the library today.
  • Your research paper is due this Sunday.
  • Attached is a study guide to prepare for your quiz on Friday.
  • Please check Announcements in the classroom for an important message.

You can schedule posts in advance so that they will send on a specific day at a specific time. I like to schedule posts on Sunday or Monday for the upcoming week. Some of my colleagues schedule posts for the entire semester. Sometimes, I send a message right before or right after class. It depends upon the information that needs to be communicated.

There is also a chat feature. By turning this on, you allow students to respond to messages that you send. I rarely turn this feature on. Part of the beauty of Remind for me is my ability to text students without them being able to text back. With 300+ students per semester, I do not have the time to respond to each individual student who decides to respond. I also worry that responding in this context may lead to a FERPA violation due to the inability to verify who you are communicating with through this feature. When I set up Remind, I turn the chat feature off in all of my large classes.

Depending upon your needs you may chose to turn this feature on. Just be aware of the type of information you are sharing – grades or other personal information should be avoided.

Student have reported appreciating text messages related to the class as well as reminders of events happening on campus. I will occasionally push out club meeting reminders (Ex. Sign Language club is meeting at 11:00 today in building 16 room 101) or reminders of extracurricular events – especially if there is a student in the class who participates (Ex. Don’t forget the girls basketball game is tonight at 6 pm). I remind students in the class to go and support their fellow classmate.

There are SO many ways to use Remind. I can’t imagine teaching without it.

How do you use Remind? Share your examples below.

Technology For Class 

One of my top priorities as an educator is to develop dynamic lectures where students are engaged and stimulated. So, I use a variety of technology throughout the semester to ensure students are engaged and to reduce distraction and boredom in the classroom.  Depending upon the class and the daily objectives, I develop activities that incorporate one of the following technologies:

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This learning technology is fun and easy to use! Students can use smartphones or laptops to play. Kahoot! allows instructors to use multiple-choice questions to review course material, check for understanding, or prepare for an upcoming quiz or exam. Students LOVE playing, and it creates a dynamic classroom where they can compete live using a screen name of their choice.
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This is my one of my favorite technologies to use for group work!
Instructors can post a link so students can access Padlet. A posted prompt or question will appear that needs to be addressed. One person from the group can record the group’s response. Paddle can be monitor by the instructor and the other groups, because of the shared platform where response are recorded. In order to use Padlet, only one group member needs a computer or tablet to access the link. Another great feature is that it can be projected, so every student in the group has access to the information posted. Group members can practice their public speaking skills by presenting results, even it they did not transcribe for the group. Using the link provided, the information posted in the created Padlet can be used in a later class meeting or by students as they prepare for assignments or assessments.

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Grammarly is a free program that checks for spelling and grammar errors. It helps to improve the overall quality of written submissions.  This can be beneficial for students and educators too! In the interest of transparency, I have to confess, I struggle with grammar and occasionally misuse words when writing. I also overlook mistakes made when proofreading my writing. Therefore, I use Grammarly to edit my writing. It works well with Google Chrome, or papers can be uploaded directly into Grammarly. This is a really helpful tool. Give it a try!

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I also use PowToon to create short videos for students. This can help bring concepts to life in a short film. It allows instructors to script the interaction between people and show this interaction in a short film using cartoon characters. I also encourage students to use this when creating presentations. For example, a student may write a script and use PowToon to demonstrate good doctor patient interaction or how to deliver bad new to a patient. PowToon can also help bring textbook interactions to life. Rather than simply reading textbook examples, instructors can animate them using PowToon.

Which Technology Should I Use?
The technology decisions that I make are not only dependent upon the course, the topic objectives, and the content being covered on a particular day, but are also dependent upon my students and what they have available to them in the classroom. Students use technology! It is rare to find a student without a computer, phone, or an iPad in class. This has definitely changed over the years, and therefore,  I evolved my teaching pedagogy to meet that times that I am currently teaching in. When determining what type of technology to incorporate, remember to consider these factors and determine which type of technology will be the most effective. Do not select a technology and build your lesson around the technology. Create your lesson and then determine what type of technology can be incorporated to enhance the lesson.

Familiarize Yourself
I get nervous when using new technology. I worry about if and how it will work. I worry that it may take up to much class time and not be worth it. However, with the aforementioned technology, I have been surprised at how easy it was to integrate into my lectures and how motivated students were to access and use these resources. One way that I build confidence when using new technology is by testing it before using it in my class. I ask my coworkers and friends to be my test subjects! For example, I create Kahoot! questions and ask my friends to play.  We use Padlet in faculty meetings. I used Grammarly for weeks before sharing it with students. And, PowToon is fun use to send  a funny video message to a colleagues before trying it in class! By testing new technology before including it as part of a lesson, stress is reduced and confidence is built before sharing it with students.

Blended Learning

Blended Learning
Photo Credit: @craftedbygc

Three years ago, I was approached by my dean and asked to pilot blended learning in one of my classes for the fall semester. I am always up for a challenge and so I agree; however, I was not very familiar with blended learning or what it entailed. I had experience teaching in the online setting as well as in the traditional classroom environment. How hard could this be? I imagined blended learning to just be a combination of the two modalities. While some components from both modalities are incorporated into blended learning, I quickly came to realize, through the research, it was not as simple as just combining the two modalities.

Blended learning is a combination of traditional classroom methods and online digital media and technology; however, it is also consideration of how to present material in a way that allows student the flexibility to tailor and customize their learning. Students are asked to explore course topics outside of the traditional classroom setting. Instructors are responsible for determining strategies and activities that students can participate in. Lessons that are designed provide students the freedom to incorporate learning strategies that they prefer. This type of learning supports students from Generation Y and Z, who tend to be highly connected and driven by technology.

Blended learning challenged the way I planned lessons. I had to creatively consider how I could present material and assess student learning.

Some things I had to consider:

  1. Will students work independently?
  2. Will they work in groups?
  3. Will they do a project? Research? Presentation?
  4. What types of technology can be used to enhance the learning process?

I had the summer to prepare for my first blended learning experience. First, I had to determine how I would ensure students were learning when they were not in class listening to lecture or participating in activities. What types of activities could I implement to verify they were still exposed to and engage with the material? This took a bit of consideration, research, and time on my part. But the overall outcome was modified lectures and inclusion of activities that allowed students could take part in independently and in small groups. Each week, there was some type of deliverable or assessment technique to ensure students gained the necessary information. The end result was that they were learning the material just as effectively as when I lectured. This was evident by quiz/exam scores, assignments, and end of course grades which were similar to classes that I did not blend. The only difference between the classes was the mode of delivery of the material. This was SO exciting!

Please note, I was still responsible to plan. Planning felt very much like preparing for a new class. even though I had been teaching this particular class for several years. I had to work to incorporate experiences that students could not participate in if they were in a classroom. What types of resources could they access? How would I ensure that they were actually completing the work and not just treating the blended learning day as a “day off”?

Through the blended learning experience, I have become a more dynamic teacher. My classes have evolved from passive environments where I lectured and students took notes to classes where students are actively involved and engaged. Students still take notes, but they also participate in activities to help to apply the information that is being covered. In all of my classes, I have incorporated more active learning activities and less lecture. In addition to lecture, I incorporate videos, case studies and scenarios, presentations, technology, and independent and group activities to present and apply the course content.

Blended learning can be applied to many different subject areas. It is up to you to determine what you want students to learn and how they will obtain the information. Perhaps, lectures are the most appropriate for your subject matter. However, I still challenge you to consider alternatives to lecture. Would students in your class benefit from taking a field trip, volunteering in the community, conducting research, participating in research, participating in mock interviews, creating presentations, or interviewing professionals in the field? Consider all of the activities a student could participate in if they were not confined in the classroom. Would they learn more from those hand-on, applicable activities? It is important to remember that students have access to information on your subject matter. It is at their fingertips. They can read the material in the textbook. They can use the Internet to access information. It is no longer simply your job to be the subject matter expert, but also to make the subject matter come alive. Provide an experience that students are not able to obtain simply by reading the textbook. The key to understanding is applying what they are learning. And applying it in situations that they will encounter when the are graduates working in the field.

Since the semester that I piloted blended learning three years ago, I have continued to use this method of instruction. I have increased the number of classes that I blend each semester. This opportunity has been beneficial and has helped me to grow as an instructor, because I reconsidered my style of teaching, made adjustments, started to lecture less, and allow students greater freedom and choice over their own learning. This has been a positive experience for me and the students who are enrolled in these classes. Here are some comments from former students who participated in blended learning:

I really enjoyed coming to class on Tuesdays and getting the information I need then being able to apply it on my own on Thursdays.”
“I enjoyed the freedom and flexibility it gave me with my learning.”
“I appreciated the options provided. I liked choosing activities that I wanted to participate in to apply what I was learning. I also liked working with other students in the class to complete blended day work.”

Any additional ideas for using blended learning. Share them below.