June 16, 2002
June 16, 2002
June 19, 2002
7.1005.1 - 7.1005.17
Main Menu Session 3275
So You’re a New Teacher – What Now?
Captain Craig Quadrato United States Military Academy
Teaching is not my regular job. Or at least it wasn’t. One of the wonderful opportunities in the Army is the chance to get selected as a rotating faculty member at The United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. When I was accepted, I was overjoyed. With the appointment as an instructor at USMA came a fully funded masters degree and the opportunity to present structural steel design to undergraduate cadets. But somewhere between graduate school and West Point, I realized I would not be presenting, rather I would be teaching. I had plenty of experience speaking in front of groups, giving presentations, and briefing military superiors, but now I would be teaching. Teaching is something different. Teaching sparks learning where a brief or presentation imparts information, and this is a fundamental difference. While I knew I could present, I became anxious because I was not confident I could teach.
Upon looking back over my first semester, I realize there were two things that not only prepared me to teach but also improved my teaching skills more quickly than I thought possible. First, I got some formal teacher training at USMA. Second, I applied this formal training and my previous Army experience to improve my teaching throughout my first semester. Specifically, I focused on planning and preparing each class, turning each class into a performance, and using administrative tasks as teaching opportunities. By using these improvement strategies, I have achieved good results for my first semester and have formed a solid base to continue my improvement for the rest of my assignment as an instructor. My goal is to provide you with my perspective on how to form a plan to improve your teaching no matter how new you are to the profession.
Formal Education Training
As I made my cross-country road trip from Palo Alto, California to West Point, New York, my improvement as an instructor was already being planned for me. With a large rotating faculty (most USMA instructors serve only three years as an instructor and then return to a more traditional Army officer role), the senior leaders at the Department of Civil and Mechanical Engineering at USMA understand that their new instructors need some formal training before they begin to teach. I, along with all new instructors at West Point, was required to participate in the department’s annual Instructor Summer Workshop (ISW). This formal teaching education was invaluable in transforming me from an Army orator to a West Point instructor. ISW gave me two opportunities: first, it exposed me to teaching theories and techniques I had not yet considered, and second, it gave me the opportunity to practice teaching in front of experienced instructors who provided me with valuable feedback.
Proceedings of the 2002 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright Ó 2002 American Society for Engineering Education
Quadrato, C. (2002, June), So You're A New Teacher What Now? Paper presented at 2002 Annual Conference, Montreal, Canada. 10.18260/1-2--11273
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