I taught my first class this semester. The subject? Theatrical sound design. I learned a lot from teaching this class. Some were surprises and others were more confirmations than new knowledge. As a way of reflecting on some of these observations, I would like to share them with my readers.

How every student is different

This may seem like an obvious fact, but it still came with some surprises. At the beginning of the semester I sent out a survey that included the question “how do you like to study/learn best?” This took some time researching different learning styles. I wanted to include as many varieties as I could find. What I have learned about my students is that most of them do not like to learn through a linguistic approach, such as reading. While I do. Most of us shared a desire for a kinesthetic approach. This led me to include as much hands-on training as possible. I have found that adapting my teaching style to the class makes me feel more confident and challenges me as a teacher.

There were also a few facts that were even more solidified in my mind. A student’s perception of teaching and learning information is a sliding, varying scale. Some students are not receptive to being taught. Trying to teach someone who doesn’t want to be taught is equivalent to trying to teach a brick wall. This feels like a disappointment to me and it’s hard not to take it personally. If you’re anything like me, finding ways to challenge this obsessive thought is important for both the educator and the individual. Remind yourself of students who are open to you and want to learn. It doesn’t even have to be exclusive to your students. It could be a friend or peer to whom you impart knowledge.

Remember that every student will be different. They bring their own motivations to the classroom.

Teaching taught me how to break bad habits

I am a very empathetic person by nature and this serves me well as an educator. However, I can often have very high expectations. Not just for myself, but for others I work with. This might sound like a decent feature. Most people want quality. However, it is very easy for me to project expectations onto people without discussing them. This is where things can get tricky. Teaching new students taught me how to deal with this bad habit. Most of my students are freshmen or students outside the department, so expectations have to be flexible. The goal is to enhance the creative mind with a focus on sound design. I found that this flexibility and understanding allowed me to enjoy my work more.

Teaching this class has given me the opportunity to enjoy what these students bring to the table while also having healthy expectations for them. This is something I need to practice and reinforce for myself when working with peers and colleagues. So this is not only good for the relationship I have with myself, but also when I work with others. Any creative mind can think like a sound designer…As I mentioned earlier, my class is not just for audio students. I have several students from the School of Music, Lighting and Stage Design and a number of stage management students. Every single one of them is capable of being a sound designer and we hope this class has proven that to them. Yes, there is a lot of learning beyond that statement that comes with being a sound designer, but
at its core is a sense of creativity and a willingness to question possibilities. This idea was not a big surprise to me, but rather a surprise to some of the students. I remind students that stretching the creative process and considering how other design elements work with yours can only strengthen you and your design. And for many personalities that are already reflected in their work.

How often my students surprise me

And that brings me to how often I am impressed by these hardworking people. Reading design statements from lighting students that consider each emotional shift and how sound can enhance it. Stage managers detail each sound cue in their cue sheet. Listening to students answer questions and applying their understanding in discussions with their peers. These are moments that I cherish and carry throughout my busy week. They still come as a bit of a surprise and hope it doesn’t go away.

How difficult is it to teach the mechanics and physics of sound

Teaching others felt like an opportunity to relearn and reinforce already existing knowledge. This is especially true for subjects that I struggled with in my first year as a good student. It can be really challenging to teach a subject that you don’t like or feel confident about. However, I saw it as an opportunity for me. All the videos, articles and demos I found for lectures were also study material for me. I think many people would agree that the physics behind sound is not their first choice when choosing a subject to be passionate about. What I learned from teaching it was that I had a much more successful lecture if there were practical elements. This was not a lecture where I could count on reading from slides and having them take notes. This meant there was a lot of drawing on whiteboards, recap/what-we-know quizzes, and a lot of what-if experiments that I demonstrate within the DAW. This included hearing/sine scan tests, summing and canceling sine waves, the doppler effect as well as how the Haas effect works. I found that the review at the beginning of each lesson really helped me to understand what I needed to reinforce in my teaching. I also did a short test at the end of each lecture. It was worth no more than 10 points and had a maximum of five questions. I used these tests as a way to evaluate what I was teaching well and what needed to be revised. This seemed like a great use of tests because it wouldn’t ruin a student’s grades if they didn’t do well. These were easy points for them and a great way for me to test my teaching as a teacher.

Always allow some awkward time for the student to speak with thoughts/observations/or questions. Someone will always break the silence and this often leads to a larger group discussion or someone having the same question. I learned this trick from several professors during my undergrad. That was something I told my students on the first day of school. I believe that this engagement with lectures and discussions is extremely important to the learning process. And often this will lead to a larger group discussion with similar and different opinions. It is a way of sharing information that goes beyond me presenting the information to the students in front of me. Most freshmen have a very busy schedule. So it was also an opportunity for them to get to know their peers. Our department is small and knowing like-minded people to work and study with can be key for some students. I think that’s why a moment of awkward silence for students can actually be really helpful for their overall learning experience. Maybe a little cruel and
inconvenient but worth it.

As we enter the last few weeks of this semester, my students know to expect awkward pauses and will speak their minds more openly. This characteristic was taught to me early in my education, and it is gratifying to see it instilled in others. I see its positive impact on students who regularly engage and ask questions. Teaching this class was the highlight of my semester and it will be bittersweet to graduate from the class in December. It reaffirmed my love for teaching and being a huge audio and sound design geek. I don’t think this will be the last audio class I teach, but it was a great first experience.

To my students, thank you for such a wonderful and laugh-filled semester

Things I learned During My First Semester of Teaching

Previous article5 Exclusive iPhone 14 Pro Features That Non-Pro iPhones Miss
Next articleTop 46 MATLAB Interview Questions and Answers in 2022