What Should I Teach?

The lesson you prepare can be on the topic of your choice. The topic could be a basic concept or skill from a first-year course in your discipline or it could be a subject of personal interest, such as a favourite hobby.  For the Microteaching II option (Polish Your Teaching Style), we recommend teaching a basic concept from an undergraduate course. Try to choose a topic you are comfortable teaching. Also bear in mind that you will be teaching a very interdisciplinary audience who will not be familiar with your field. Your lesson should therefore be accessible by a non-specialist audience. Assume, whatever you decide to teach, that you will be addressing beginner learners. If you do choose to teach an academic lesson based in your own discipline, be sure to explain any discipline-specific terminology. Please avoid teaching an advanced concept from a 4th-year specialist course or from your own thesis research. You don’t have time in the session to provide the necessary background information to your audience in order to teach them advanced topics. Also, keep your topic focused. Streamline your material – quantity of content is not nearly as important as the clarity, organization and impact of the material taught. You are showcasing your communication skills, not your research skills.

As much as possible, your lesson should also be interactive—we will be assessing your ability to manage questions from the audience and your skill at engaging the audience. In other words, we discourage you from reading a conference presentation or only reading from lecture notes. Presenting information is not the same as teaching. Try to think of your lesson more as a dialogue or a conversation with your audience instead of a presentation to your audience.

Examples of past microteaching lessons include:
– how to read the Hebrew alphabet (focusing on only three characters)
– how to tie a couple of nautical knots
– how to locate diamond-producing rock
– clarifying what red blood cells do
– demonstrating how to make “goo” using borax and glue
– how to identify ancient seeds that have been fossilized
– how to carve a “rosette” out of a carrot

In the microteaching session, you will be asked to state your goal for the session. This will guide you and your audience in reviewing the lesson. Examples of possible goals are:

  • testing out questions and answers
  • explaining one idea in two different ways
  • getting started on the right foot (e.g. laying out the ground rules on the first day of class, or explaining an in-class activity for the first time)
  • practicing leading a discussion
  • providing examples
  • working through problems