Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Improve Workshop

I attended the Kaufman Teaching Certificate Program (KTCP) offered by MIT Teaching & Learning Laboratory in Summer 2016. As an alumni of KTCP, I was invited to attend an Improve Workshop offered by the same centre. The link to this workshop can be found in this link.

A group of around 20 PhD students and postdocs attended the workshop. First, we formed a circle and started to count loudly from 5 to 1, then from 4 to 1, etc. We repeated this four times, and each time we moved one limb as we counted numbers. This was a preliminary 'exercise' to feel comfortable and   confident (similar to alphabet exercise Dana taught me in the first class).

We moved on with a game where the instructor, Jake Livengood, started with a random word (e.g., 'camel') and participants had to continue adding more words to that (until one uses the word 'period').
Apparently, this improvisation game can be helpful to handle real-world situations in classes or inter-personal communications. The workshop continued with a similar game where participants 'throw' words at each-other; you receive a word from a random person in the circle (e.g., 'banana'), improvise the first related word that comes to your mind (e.g., 'monkey'), and throw it to another random person in the circle. In another game we were asked to ask a random person to list 5 random things (e.g., five cities they want to visit) and they answer immediately. This last game was repeated twice with the second time we were asked to think and reflect on our body movements, reflecting our 'confidence'.

The last part of the workshop was about solutions for handling unexpected situations in a classroom. For example, when no student answers a question you ask in a lecture, you can grab students' attention by rephrasing the question, playing devils' advocate. When a student asks an offensive question, depending on the situation, you might rephrase it in a positive way (e.g., by saying 'I assume you mean... right?').

In summary, the workshop was fun. Other related workshops/talks were advertised that I might attend in the short future.

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