This week, I finally completed my 12-15 minute microteaching presentation. I presented on Chapter 8 by Dr. Breanne Fahs, Transformational Pedagogies of the Abject Body: An Argument for Radical Fat Pedagogies (Difficult Subjects, 2018).
To prepare I…
- Read my chapter twice, highlighting key terms and adding my own notes in the margins.
- Turned these notes into slides (trying to format it as background + main questions + activity)
- Spent way too long choosing images (which I felt was important since the chapter emphasized “imagining” fat bodies in a powerful, positive light)
- Rehearsed three times before class (making sure my mini-lecture took about half the time so the activity + recap could take up the other half)
Overall, I felt that my presentation went really well. When re-capping with my professor and peers, I received the following feedback.
Deltas (Ways to Improve)
- Slow down pace
- Keep slides less text-heavy
- I did most of the heavy lifting — perhaps pose questions first and then work with students to brainstorm answers before revealing the answers on the slide. This encourages active learning and affords students space to demonstrate their own expertise on the readings.
- I seemed the most genuinely excited when introducing the activity. Perhaps I could keep that vibe (a contrast to the more “presentation/lecture” style of the beginning of my microteaching session)
Positives (Things I did well)
- Most peers rated my energy as STRONG
- Folks enjoyed the activity, as it gave them an opportunity to connect fat pedagogies with their own field of study in a visual way (for example, the American Indian cohort folks created “Flatbread Man” who denied the narrative that flatbread and fatness are unhealthy. Instead, flatbread, what natives could prepare with what little ingredients they had been given, was celebrated).
My professor also noted, “I’m jealous of whoever gets to be in your TA section next year.”
Haters Gonna Hate
Recently, I’ve been hearing this phrase from unlikely sources. In particular, during a lunch roundtable Mae Ngai (Professor of Asian American Studies and History at Columbia University) she said this point herself.
As a Professor who often expresses her opinions via Op-Eds, Professor Ngai candidly noted, “I get hate mail. Haters gonna hate.”
I feel that the same goes for students.
In reading my peer’s feedback forms, I was glad to see overwhelming positivity. However, I did notice large negative discrepancies from several of my peers. While most folks (11) rated my teaching as STRONG or GOOD, I received two feedback sheets that rated my teaching as mostly NEEDS WORK.
Because the discrepancies were so large, a colleague noted, “That feedback may not be coming from a good place.” It’s good to take constructive criticism… but only if it’s coming from a place of wanting to uplift you and help you grow, not maliciously tear you down.
Not everyone will enjoy your style of lecturing, but to do your best is all we can do.