The First Time I Lectured

The prep was crazy

So, I was asked to cover for a lecturer. I knew the content back to front and was a confident speaker. I could do this. Then it hit me “but the references needed updating”, “but there were a few minor bugs in the slides”, “but I want to have my own sense of identity as the lecturer”, “but this is someone else’s narrative. How will I weave it, what will I say?”. This meant that, even though the lecture was already built, I might as well have started out from scratch. It took me about a week to prepare. However, I have given that lecture a number of times now and things have become much easier since that first ordeal. I guess the takeaway is that the prep was crazy for my first lecture. Whenever I prepare for a lecture, the first time I prepare is always the most intense.

The nervousness was unusually high

As a tutor, I have been guarded by “oh but we have to follow the lecturer”. But this time I was the lecturer. I thought if I said something wrong then the students would know or would pull me up or would ask hard questions. The Imposter Syndrome ran wild as I stood in the room waiting to begin. Now, normally, I am very comfortable talking about research and psychology in front of large audiences. I actually enjoy it. But this first time was a little different. However, my anxiety went away the moment I started. The rush of adrenaline and state of flow that I am so used to in public speaking came flooding back.

Managing questions

What I have not revealed is that this first lecture was a 4th year psychology unit. Moreover, this was a lectorial style lecture with class discussions as a core component of all lectures. All up this meant that I had a class of highly inquisitive kids that really wanted to know the nuts and bolts of the topic. But, in my initial state of anxiety of being questioned, I interpreted the questions as personal hits against my ability to teach. In hindsight it was a strong ability to teach that encouraged the students to begin to tease the lecture content apart and ask the bigger questions. Once I realised this, it changed how I handled class questions. They went from hits of criticisms to signs that I was doing my job right – the students were engaging with and thinking deeply about the lecture content.

All’s well that ends well

The student feedback for that one lecture was fantastic. I was invited back to give the lecture again, and eventually, became a core part of the lecturing team. So, I think this first shot at lecturing was definitely a success story! It had its moments, but I learnt so much from those moments. Use the comments below to share your experiences with your first time lecturing.

~ Chris Kilby

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