Podcast Episode 33: Authentic Teaching With Julia Stephens

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Our guest is Julia Stephens from the Yale History Department and South Asian Studies Program. Julia both teaches and writes about South Asia, Islam, colonialism, family, the law and the Indian diaspora. In just two years at Yale she has built a reputation among the students for being a dynamic and effective lecturer. Julia succeeds by being creative, being open-minded, and most important, being herself.

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Show Notes

0:00 Intro

0:38 Introducing Julie Stephens

2:23 “Not a ‘dry’ lecture course.”

4:53 Teaching when you don’t look like a stereotypical professor

7:16 Discussing what to wear while teaching. The authority of being yourself.

8:35 Writing a full lecture script vs. being open to improvising.

10:40 “Covering the material” vs. something different.

12:18 Resisting ‘Islam 101.’ NOT “mastering the subject.” Knowing to ask more questions.

15:47 Leaving the students unsettled. Teaching with blogs and using reflection.

17:11 Teaching in the age of Wikipedia. Resisting giving students a “review guide.”

21:34 The “warm” call

23:29 Facilitating student debates and supporting respectful disagreement.

26:28 Teaching contentious issues.

29:41 Keeping the feeling of a seminar in a lecture. Doing something different EVERY class.

31:14 Julie listens to the Teach Better Podcast. Trying to start a revolution in the classroom.

34:29 The lecture as an audio track. Encouraging students to use computers as a ‘second channel.’

37:20 Using short video clips as primary sources in the classroom.

39:41 Hating lectures makes Julie rethink the lecture as a seminar. Does it scale?

44:07 Beginning-of-the-semester jitters. Being told to wear a blazer.

46:11 Not wanting to be the male authority figure. Caring about intellectual property.

52:05 Mistakes in the classroom as learning opportunities. Creating a low-stress environment–for the teacher, too.

55:34 Challenges ahead: being efficient while maintaining a high level of quality.

1:00:36 Signing off