- You've studied for years to earn your graduate degree. You've read countless articles, attended hundreds of lectures. You've finally made it. You're teach a college course. The bad news is, you still have countless hours of reading and many more lectures ahead. As a Top Professor you need to keep up to date with the developments in your field. Top Professors rarely come to class with old, faded notes on a legal pad. Instead, Top Professors stay current with content, technology, and teaching techniques.
Every field, yes even history, has new shifts in thinking, new approaches to existing theories, and new discoveries. A major obstacle to staying up to date is the other elements competing for your attention. The daily life of a professor is busy, so consciously make the time to stay current. Try to take 15 minutes a day either at the beginning, the middle during lunch, or even right before you go to sleep. I set aside my time in the morning when I'm fresh and I've had my tea.
There are a number of ways to stay current in any field using tools that will bring information and news right to you. First, identify the key figures in your field. You will know these people by the research, articles, or books they publish. They are key note speakers at conferences or they might appear on popular television or radio shows. Once you find these individuals, figure out how to follow their work. Read their latest journal articles, follow them on social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn, or subscribe to their blog.
These leaders are often the first people to surface research ideas, concepts, or theories that are being worked on in your field but are not widely disseminated. Another way I stay current is to attend conferences, workshops, and other events on a national and international scale. I know it's becoming harder and harder to attend these events because of budget cuts, but it's in your best interest to attend these events. Spending some of your own money to attend is worth the investment.
When you go to these events, don't just attend the sessions and go home. Work the event. If you find a topic or speaker especially interesting or thought provoking, buy that person a cup of coffee or take them out for a meal and pick their brain. If you absolutely can't travel to a conference, consider signing up for webinars. They provide a nice, short burst of information and as a bonus, they're often free of charge. If you find that time is a larger constraint then you imagined, create an assignment that has your students' summarizing recent research in the field.
This type of assignment helps you to stay up to date as you grade and evaluate the student summaries. It exposes the students to research in the field and finally, it provides a chance for students to practice writing and thinking critically about the research results. Staying current in your field is a requirement of a Top Professor, so I challenge you to use these techniques to stay up to date.
- Respecting your students
- Conveying your passion for teaching
- Maintaining academic rigor
- Engaging students in and out of class
- Making learning active
- Staying current
- Continually improving your teaching
- Publishing your work
- Being flexible
- Connecting to the outside world
- Collaborating with peers