Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008


Over the years I have made some changes in the way I teach my public speaking class. Certainly this should come as no surprise and I would be concerned about a teacher who indicates s/he has not made any changes. Some changes work well and others, after trying for a short period of time, end up being discarded.

One change that I have made that I really like is having every student comment on a speech. As each speaker concludes his or her presentation, I pause for a moment and ask each student in class to take out a 3x5 index card and write a comment on it to the speaker about his or her speech. We then move on to the next speaker and when that individual has concluded, again I pause so everyone can write the speaker a message.

The only person who does not need to write the speaker an index card is the actual speaker him or herself and the person assigned to deliver a full critique of the speech (which happens after all speeches for the day are completed), both in writing and verbally. In fact, for the first and last speech each student delivers over the course of the semester, they individual must write a comment on an index card to him or herself.

When all speakers are finished, I collect all the index cards and the written evaluations. I then type up my own comments and give the student a package containing his or her outline, my comments with the grade on it, the evaluation from the other student and all index cards. I try to sort through the cards ahead of time and arrange them in such a way that the first few and last few cards only have positive comments written about the speech. Some of the ones in the middle may also have a suggestion or two (although all should contain some positive comments about the speech). If this is a speech where the speaker needed to include a comment to him or herself, I put that last so the individual can see that we have a tendency to judge ourselves more harshly than others.

I have found this works well. The speaker gets feedback from everyone in the class and it shows how different people view things. Some of the students are very perceptive and write interesting things. I believe, on the whole, it truly has helped and continues to help students become better speakers.