The basis of good teaching is clear communication; telling your participants what they need and want to know in a way that they can easily understand.
One item that teachers and trainers often forget to clearly communication is the course structure. Making the course structure clear allows participants to relax and focus on learning. Here’s how to do it well:
1. Give your learners all the details. Then place those details in a permanent spot that’s easy to access.
2. Don’t just distribute the information—review it to ensure everyone understands.
- The course name
- Your name & contact information
- The course calendar—Number of lessons; start and end dates; any holidays, cancellations, or different locations for field trips, lab days, etc; and due dates or deadlines. (Pro Tip: You may choose to talk about due dates later, to avoid premature—and often lengthy—discussion about the assignments.)
- The class or session schedule—Start and stop times; break times (at least every 90 minutes) and length; and information to help participants be ready to start each session promptly. (For example, do you always discuss the homework first; do you want students online 15 minutes before class starts?)
4. Tell participants the permanent location of:
- Course outline
- Learning outcomes
- Grading matrix
- Course calendar
- Instructor contact info
- Assignment briefs
- Assignment submission processes
- Readings and resources
- Course components (discussion forums, collaboration tools)
- Institutional information (graduation requirements, course withdrawal or challenge information, school policies)
5. Finally, be sure to mention anything specific to the venue, such as parking restrictions or cafeteria hours. Most important, always tell participants where the bathrooms are.
Sharing the structure and expectations of your course or program shows respect for your participants, and sets them up for success. That’s great leadership, and good teaching.