The art of teaching

Today, teaching has become more dynamic than in the past. With each new school year, new students, the process begins anew. Teaching is NOT just transferring knowledge but also learning new things. Even as teachers, the learning also never stops. Teaching is an ongoing process, you teach, but at the same time you learn and adjusting your teaching to meet the students’ demand. Today’s teaching requires more efforts and conscious of the teachers about the new situation, and it is challenging when you have to add new materials, new techniques, new technologies into your teaching process. As a teacher, I have made a few mistakes in my teaching career, and I would like to share with you:

As a teacher, sometimes I focus too much on technologies then forget that teaching is NOT about reading a Powerpoint or showing a short video. It took me a few months to realize that these tools are helping me to improve my teaching, but NOT a substitute for the teaching. There is no reason to use technology unless I make students to learn first. Since that time, I often give a short lecture using these technologies but spend more time to encourage students to think deeply about the subject by asking them questions, challenging them to find answers and make them learn. I believe that if we are not careful, these technologies can become distractions and lead us to mistake the technologies for the teaching.

As a teacher, sometimes I have to spend a lot of time learning new technologies and integrate them into my course. However, after a few months, there is an updated version which requires me to change my materials to accommodate new features. I realize that integrate new technologies can be difficult and requires more efforts than previously thought. That is why I understand why some teachers become frustrated with technologies and do not want to use them. I believe that teachers do not have to be experts in every new technology and everything. It is important for us to select a few tools that we are comfortable with to be used in our classroom.

For many years of teaching, I realize that we must give our students several opportunities to learn the materials to develop their knowledge. Teaching for 45 minutes but expect students to understand it well does NOT work because students do not have enough time to process the materials. If we want them to learn well, we need to repeat it several times. It is impossible to teach a subject on Monday but expects students to know it well for the next week test. If we want students to learn deeply, we have to challenge them to think more by asking them to recall the materials in their minds of what they have learned, at least several times.

If learning is about thinking deeply until they learn it then teaching is about asking yourself “What do we want students to know? What kind of processing do they need to do? And how do we develop a learning environment where both teachers and students are learning together?”


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University