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Appreciation for your fellow students who are involved in teaching

You can now nominate candidates for the SKAS MU Award for their pedagogical activities and assistance in teaching.

Some of the best teachers can be found among students. Nominations for the award from the Student Chamber of the Academic Senate of MU (SKAS) will be collected till January 29, 2021 and the competition is evaluated in three categories: natural sciences and medicine, social sciences and humanities, economics and informatics.

Students have the opportunity to nominate a person who was a student at the time they met. They can show their appreciation to doctoral students who taught them or helped with their final work submissions, but also other teaching students or assistants. "Most of the prizes go to doctoral students, but in the past, we have awarded a master's student who actively participated in the implementation of one particular course," describes the chairman of SKAS Jiří Němec. At some MU faculties, it is common for students to participate who are studying on bachelor's programmes and enthusiasm remains for doctoral studies students. It is these enthusiastic lecturers who can motivate students even more with their voices.

Among the teachers nominated by students in the spring semester last year, three of them received the award on November 17, when a chamber reverence assembly was convened on the occasion of the International Student Day and the Day of the Struggle for Freedom and Democracy. They were Martin Macák, Deelan Vadher and Michal Blažek.

How best to teach

"Teachers will enjoy feedback from students at the end of each semester. I perceive winning this award as a sign of students' gratitude for their work, "describes Martin Macák from the Faculty of Informatics MU. When asked what he sees as the benefit of his teaching, he says: "The uniqueness of each teacher is in the way he immerses himself into teaching. One of my pillars, for example, is that I approach my teaching as an improvisational theatrical performance. The course is basically the same: I play to the audience of students what they "want" for me, and at the same time I try to entertain them a bit. So, I have no problem changing the course of the lesson according to the mood or the needs of the audience. In addition, because I am a gamer myself, sometimes I enrich my lessons with something related to computer games. For example, I explained parallel programming in Warcraft 3, the architecture of web applications in Minecraft, we also modelled a diagram according to the game Among Us, and sometimes I turn on World of Warcraft for practice."

One of the award winners, Deelan Vadher from the Medical Faculty of MU is also an international student. Deelan is the president of MIMSA - Masaryk International Medical Student's Association and has his own blog Meducation, where he shares articles about life as an international medical student at MU, about interesting discoveries in medicine and also adds medical tutoring there as well.

Thanks to him, MIMSA conducted online classes last year: “After the March lockdown, we were unable to access the lecture halls at the old medical faculty to provide our weekly Anatomy and Physiology lectures. Recognising an opportunity for change, I organised a platform whereby we could live stream lectures using YouTube. I gave the first lecture to an audience of 60+ students and the video now had 360+ views. We have maintained this form of lecturing since March. Online teaching can be difficult because you cannot see the students' faces and interact with them – an integral part of teaching. Despite its limitations, I have found that both engagement through real time messages and attendance has actually increased after switching to online lectures.”

The third winner is Michal Blažek from the Faculty of Law MU. He evaluates his work during teaching as follows: "Basically, I think that it is mainly about maximum involvement of students in teaching, further reduction of the teacher's interpretation at the seminar, the use of a variety of didactic methods, relaxed friendly atmosphere in the classroom and respectful approach. I was very influenced by the book Respect and Be Respected in this regard. I certainly don't share the opinion that a student should come to class with some fear. I try to be a friend who is in the classroom and by chance he knows a little more than the students themselves."

Michal likes to divide students into sub-teams, in which they solve legal cases together throughout the semester, as well as various creative performances, where there is room for their own creative development. "They then think individually about case law, work out basic concepts, create their own test questions, make videos and learn them easily from all these materials. I will put the students into pairs, in which we will implement my favourite method of habitats, which I dare say is very popular even among students."

Advice for future teachers

"First of all, I recommend implementing teaching so that it produces positive emotions. In my opinion, it is important that both students and teachers themselves enjoy teaching. I would also like to highlight cooperation with colleagues - it has a great effect when you do not compete with them, ‘who is the best teacher?’, but on the contrary, together you create materials, homework, or give feedback on teaching. I can also recommend the Prostor J4 platform . The courses that take place on it are focused on practical skills, useful not only for beginner teachers, and are available to students at any faculty, "describes Martin Macák.

The advice from Deelan Vadher is as follows: “No two students are the same in terms of their starting point or speed of retention. Following on from that, it is essential to tailor teaching plans to the needs of the student. Creating lesson plans in advance and maintaining excellent communication are crucial in delivering successful teaching."

"Within the university, it is possible to register for courses from the Centre for the Development of Pedagogical Competences (CERPEK). I would definitely emphasise that the school does not in any way exclude quality content through play. However, everyone has to figure it out for themselves. What will a teacher teach me from sitting behind a monitor, I can't even see his head, and he explains something for a hundred minutes (albeit thoroughly)? The hard-working student writes notes, goes to the exam, repeats what has been learned with a nice expression, but what does he remember in life? The content needs to be actively experienced. Everyone has to discover it for themselves. A teacher can 'only' open the door to knowledge, adds Michal Blažek.