Lesson presentation hints

This is a checklist/hints on what to do when standing up and giving a presentation. Also see :doc:instructor-tech-setup.

Before each lesson

  • Remember: sticky notes, water, extra whiteboard markers.

  • Make your text large enough to be seen in the back, then bigger. Make your voice loud enough to be heard in the back, then louder.

  • As people are coming in, encourage them to sit next to someone with a similar operating system - then, when helping each other, the unimportant differences are minimized.

  • By the same token, don’t allow people to sit alone: ask everyone to set next to at least one other person. That way, people can help each other.

  • Have a pen and paper next to you. When you notice problems in the material, write it down right away during breaks in the type-along parts.

  • Set up feedback system (chat, questions, etc)

Starting off

  • Don’t start off with tech details, say why this is important. Think of what the emotional (“coolness”) appeal is and start off with that.

  • Why will this be useful?

Team teaching

  • Discuss with co-teachers and helpers about what each of you will do.

    • Hand signals for common situations: too fast/slow in general, louder, time for a break, “good enough, move on”, “explain more here”.

  • It can be hard for one person to manage everything. How can multiple instructors take part? Probably the most common ones are:

    • Teach teaching: alternating

      • Commander and navigator: conceptually divide roles of big picture teaching and doing the details.

      • If “real” alternating, each section should be 10-15 min at least, otherwise too much context switching is distracting.

    • Teach and assist (master helper going around)

    • Teach and observe.

    • Asking directed questions to fill in gaps.

  • Tell the students the way the teachers will work together, so that it seems coordinated rather than someone is interrupting.

During the lessons

  • Helpers can read the helping and teaching guide. Encourage helpers to stand and be constantly walking around, people rarely flag helpers from across the room.

  • Encourage the use of sticky notes (red=need help, green=I am done with the solution). They can also be used for voting, e.g. red/green for two answers of a multiple choice question.

  • Don’t touch the learner’s keyboard! This is very hard to do, since it’s only natural to want to get things done quickly. The best idea we have is to have a pen and sticky notes, when it’s hard to spell out a command to type, write it instead.

  • If appropriate for your topic, create a cumulative cheatsheet/diagram on the board as you are presenting.

  • Take advantage of the mistakes/typos you make when teaching! When you do a mistake and get an error message and realize what you did wrong, explain what happened since this can offer valuable insights to learners.

  • Ask “do you do X?” where X is what you are teaching. Instead, ask “how do you do Y?”. The first question implies something you are doing wrong, the second is open-ended.

Exercise sessions

  • What to do during exercise sessions

  • never stop sharing screen, ask someone else to share instead.

  • Always go over the lesson with someone else the day before.

Try to stick to the material

  • Don’t try to show everything, show less, but show it clearly.

  • Try not to completely deviate from the material. Ideally, rather influence the material before you teach. Of course it is good to react to questions and to adapt the material to the audience, so sometimes an excursion can be very useful, but make clear that you then deviate from the script and be explicit about whether participants should follow what you do or only watch.

  • If you want to show some extra steps in the terminal, show them perhaps at the end of an exercise block to not “mess up” the exercise half-way and change it with respect to the material.

  • It is good to mention an anecdote or two but be careful about mentioning too much new jargon which only very few participants may relate to.

Wrap up

  • Say what you taught and why.

  • Say what comes next. Say where to get that.

  • Update the instructor’s guide and file issues for any problems you noticed.

  • Use the sticky notes to get good/bad feedback: have people write one good and one to be improved thing, and leave the note on the door on the way out.

  • Get instant feedback from your co-teachers and helpers (students too, if they offer any).

    • Consider making notes on a 4-way diagram of (content←→presentation) × (went well←→can be improved).