Top Hat’s panel of innovative educators have one piece of advice for rookie educators eager to start afresh in 2019—try something new, but slow down.

“This is your domain, and you get to choose how you want to instruct students,” says Leslie Sprunger, associate professor at Washington State University’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “Be willing to explore, experiment and try one thing at a time.”

Our panel of five innovative profs—who all feature in their own playlist on Top Hat’s new YouTube channel—are all excellent examples of educators who have taken their teaching to the next level using modern learning techniques. They range from Burcu Karabina, who works on reducing math anxiety for her class of liberal arts students in order to improve outcomes, to psychology prof Laura Freberg who lives and breathes the growth mindset.

In the video below, our innovative profs answer some of the most important questions coming up in the next twelve months—what the biggest challenges are for students and for educators, and what new educators should bear in mind for the new year.

According to our professors’ thinktank, some of the biggest challenges facing educators include declining graduation rates and students’ own study skills. But working on solving this requires time, which requires time management—a recurring issue for both students and educators.

One of the biggest challenges for educators is balancing teaching requirements and being able to instruct classes effectively against the research obligations that a professorship requires. Likewise, for students, it’s often a problem being able to fulfil course obligations—and having the time to learn the study skills needed to excel in higher education.

But for some, a challenge is an opportunity. “I think of my classroom as my research lab, so that when I’m doing research, I’m potentially improving my teaching,” says John Redden, physiology instructor at the University of Connecticut and active learning evangelist.

“Don’t be afraid to take risks,” he adds. “What’s the worst that could really happen? If you don’t take risks, then you’ll never step out of your comfort zone and you’ll just end up doing what was being done for you earlier in your career.”

Biggest challenges for educators

Declining graduation
Teaching vs. research
Not enough time

Biggest challenges for students

Skills gap
Time management

Advice for people just starting out

Be willing to experiment
Try one thing at a time
Keep it simple

For more Innovative Profs, and the latest on active learning and agile teaching, subscribe to our YouTube channel here.

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