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Prepping Your 1st Lecture


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I'm a first-year PhD Student in Political Science, and the Professor teaching the course that I'm TA'ing this fall has offered me the chance to lecture next week while she's away at a conference.  I took her up on the offer after everybody that I asked urged me to do it as a great introduction to teaching and an opportunity to build my CV from the very start. 


The readings that this lecture deals with are topics that I'm comfortable and familiar with, so that doesn't really concern me.  Additionally, and luckily for me in this case I think, the course is taken by primarily freshmen.


Any tips or advice on preparing for a 1st lecture? I've got a bit less than a week to put this together and prepare.

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The professor must have materials that you can use. Ask for notes or slides from previous iterations of the class to give you an idea of what the professor taught. Also ask if there are particular things she wants you to cover. Then make a detailed outline of everything (and do as rising_star suggests); if you're not experienced in presenting, try to get a sense of the timing of different parts of the lecture. Sometimes it's useful to think of ways of making parts of the lecture independent of each other, so you can fast forward or skip parts if you're running short on time. It's also good to have some kind of activity (one or two) that engage the students and requires them to do more than just passively sit there. Have more stuff than you think you need, because you don't want to run out of things to say, but don't expect to get through everything. Remember that you're not the prof, so it's ok if you don't know everything or get confused; and don't forget to have fun! This is a great opportunity. 

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Wear anti-antiperspirant. Drink plenty of water, but use the bathroom before lecture starts. Wear clothes and especially shoes that you're comfortable standing in for several hours, not just an hour. The floors of lecture halls are either concrete or carpeted concrete and that maxes the joint exhaustion for people not used to standing for long periods. Pre-plan your method for tracking your time, that way you don't have to try to spit out five minutes worth of lecture in the last few seconds while everyone is packing up and walking out.


Aside from that, chunking into 10 to 15 minutes on one topic helps. After about 10 minutes, students typically lose focus for a while. This guy has a great way to work activities into a lecture (as fuzzylogician suggests) even in a large lecture hall:

Now, you're a substitute, so they won't respond as quickly to your cues as students that are used to doing this on a regular basis. Make sure to be clear about helping them move from lecture to activity to lecture.
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