Friday, June 23, 2023

“Techniques of Teaching” Common Problems FAQ


During the course “Techniques of Teaching”, teachers participating in it asked many practical and good questions. Think these are the questions we you will meet in the future! So I arrange it and put on my article to share with you.

In the "Techniques of Teaching" class, the participating teachers asked many practical and excellent questions. I believe these questions are ones that everyone will likely encounter in the future! Therefore, I've compiled them here to share with everyone.

Question: Is it appropriate to use the grouping method when senior executives or experienced colleagues are present?

A Fu's answer:

Of course, it is! The only limit is your imagination as teachers!

Let's start with a real example. Fairy teacher (余懷瑾) was once invited to deliver a lecture to doctors at a large hospital. That morning, the dean and heads of all departments were present. "Is this the right setting to operate in groups?" This question was not only a concern for the Fairy teacher but even more so for the training colleagues responsible for organizing the lecture! They even advised Fairy teacher: "Perhaps you could just give a straight lecture? Because no other teacher has ever done this before, won't such operation be too over the top?!"

Despite this pressure and uncertainty, Fairy teacher kept thinking about "taking full responsibility for the teaching effectiveness!". And then, at the beginning of the lecture, after a brief self-introduction, she asked everyone to stand up and form groups! She then saw the dean in the first row, also standing up... and forming a small group with three others. During the subsequent activities, quick response sessions, and discussions, the dean and executives actively participated.

The key point is: After the lecture, the executives were full of praise, repeatedly stating that it was the "best lecture they had ever attended!".

Question: After reading the "Techniques of Teaching" article, I tried to incorporate more interactions into my next lecture. In that event, I was the first speaker, and the initial session was handled by another instructor who discussed a somewhat dry topic regarding regulations. When it was my turn for the second session, I immediately asked everyone to stand up and form groups... but no one responded to me! Did I do something wrong?

A Fu's answer:

Your group formation approach was fine, but the timing was off!! The audience had just been bombarded by the first session and was probably exhausted and uninspired. If the second speaker immediately switches the pace and starts to liven things up... the students might wonder, "What's happening now? Are they trying to mess with us again?" (Ha ha, they really might think that!). So, their participation level wouldn't be ideal!

My advice is to slowly warm up! Start by introducing yourself to build trust, use a simple story or small interaction to pique their interest, and then outline the course objectives and expected outcomes to raise their expectations. Afterwards, mention that "the upcoming course will involve lots of discussions and interactions, allowing for plenty of participation and learning. But I need a favor from everyone...". Only then should you start the group formation operation and other teaching activities that follow. Adjust according to the situation, gradually increasing the heat, which is the right pace!

Question: Group interaction is a great technique, but it seems like it can only be used in small classes? Can this be implemented in a large lecture setting as well? What modifications would be different from those in smaller classes?

A Fu's answer:

So far, the largest number of people I have used group interaction within a large lecture setting is 400! And the energy throughout the room was high, it wasn't just a few people participating, but everyone was very engaged!

Of course, there are some differences in the details between smaller groups and large-scale lectures. For example, the number of people in each group. For a large-scale venue, the number of people in each group should be slightly smaller, about 3-4 people, so they can easily discuss by turning to each other. As for scoring, it's not likely that the instructor or assistant can keep score (unless you're like Brother MJ, who allocates 20 assistants to keep score with chips). So, in a large venue, I would ask each group to select a team leader to keep score (I would have them swear to keep score honestly, and if they break this vow... they will have a stomachache XD

The most important thing is the way it's operated. Because there are many people/groups, I wouldn't recommend using a "buzzer system", as only a few groups will participate in this, and other groups will lose interest once they fall behind (or fail to buzz in). Therefore, you should implement something that everyone can participate in: for example, ranking games, matching games, write answers first and then check... etc. Q&A or group discussions followed by presentations can only be used as embellishments (I don't recommend removing them entirely, as they still help to warm up the atmosphere).

Other things like how to keep score (how many points to add for a correct answer? How many points for getting the order completely right? How to add points for Q&A or presentation?), all of these need to be thought about and designed.


Question: It seems like implementing "Teaching Techniques" is really bothersome! Can't we just skip these techniques and let teachers teach earnestly, and students learn diligently?!

A Fu's answer:

Of course, you can! In an ideal world, teachers should teach without discrimination, students should seek knowledge eagerly, and everything should be harmonious and unified! I wish teaching could be like this too! In such a scenario, there would be no need for any "Teaching Techniques". If the teacher instructs, the students will contemplate earnestly, study diligently, and learn to apply their knowledge. Super dedicated!

I believe such a place exists... I just haven't encountered it yet! XD

If you push it to the extreme, all learning is about motivation! If a student's motivation to learn is extremely strong, the teaching method is irrelevant. After all, the student will find a way to survive and learn. For instance, if a company requires passing a certain certification exam to retain one's job, even the most boring legal provisions will be tackled by the learners.

We could take it even further: If we offered the latest iPhone Xs as a gift to every student who passes the post-course exam, we wouldn't need any teaching techniques either. In anticipation of such a generous reward, students would maximize their motivation to learn, regardless of the teacher's approach... even if there's no teaching at all!

However, these extreme situations are not often encountered! What we usually deal with are "normal students" with "normal learning motivations" who also normally get tired and sleepy... The reason we work so hard to study and apply teaching techniques is to transform these "normal" learning environments into exceptionally engaging ones!! That's what "Teaching Techniques" is all about!

In fact, not using (or not knowing how to use) "Teaching Techniques" is the norm! Teachers like you who are earnestly studying "Teaching Techniques" are the unusual ones! (I salute your non-conformity!)


After answering these question, are there other question you want ask also? Welcome to write down your question, I will reply as more as I can.

Ready to go to Taitung, completing my triathlon!



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