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Approaching Your First Class Assignment

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In addition to tutoring at Hume, OCTs may be assigned to visit a class to promote OCT services or to support in-class speaking activities.  This section provides an overview of the main types of OCT assignments and some general guidelines and best practices to help you know what to do in each instance.

Intro Visit

When you visit a class to introduce yourself and the Oral Communication Program, be sure to:

  • Model good public speaking (limit ums/ahs, have a clear sense of what you want to cover)
  • Identify yourself, your role in the class (assigned or just visiting?) and your experience w/ public speaking
  • Explain who we are (Oral Communication Tutors: undergrads and grads; from different disciplines; trained in how to offer feedback on public speaking)
  • Explain what we do (feedback on any presentation & feedback on any stage of presentation preparation. We can also offer mock interviews providing feedback on speaking skills.)
  • Explain how to meet with us (Hume Center for Writing and Speaking, Building 250, for program info, for appointment schedule)
  • Answer any questions: You can help students see the value in OCT appointments by sharing specific examples of OCT support or feedback. Be inviting and encourage them to take advantage of OCT resources!

Giving In-Class feedback

  • Provide feedback that's specific to the presenter but can be applied generally to whole class
  • Model how to give constructive feedback.  (For general guidelines, see section on Giving Feedback in “Approaching Your First Tutoring Session”)
  • Build on what other students say by offering speaker specific exercises on how to improve
  • Provide CONSTRUCTIVE ways to improve (including exercises) rather than just, “you need better eye contact” (which is what most students offer each other)
  • If the rest of the class has already provided most of the feedback, remember that you can also provide a valuable service by PRIORITIZING the advice. What's most important and/or realistic to fix before the actual presentation?

Facilitating Breakout Groups

  • Provide structure: every student will present, here's the order we'll go in, etc.
  • Be careful about timing and videotaping so that every student can get detailed feedback
  • Invite students in the group to give their feedback first.  Some prompting questions:  “What did you notice worked well in the presentation?”  “What would you recommend to improve?”  “What do you hear is the speaker’s main argument?”
  • Do your best to upload any videos to Stanford Box for the instructor in a timely manner. Here is a link to instructions on how to share videos using Stanford Box.

Leading Mini Workshops

  • Topics include: Improv, elevator speeches, body language, visual aids
  • A mini workshop is where you briefly introduce a topic, provide a few tips, and lead the class in an activity to practice the target skill.
  • These mini workshops are optional, but they're a fun way to get more involved in the class.  If an instructor asks you to conduct a mini workshop, check in with Janet to go over resources and prep time.

Checklist for OCTs Assigned to PWR2 or WRITE2 Classes

Email the instructor

First, email your assigned instructor once your class assignment has been confirmed to verify visit dates and offer to come in for an intro visit.  Explain what you can cover in the intro visit, as shown above.  If possible, sit in on the class for the entire session on the day you attend for an intro visit so you get a sense of the students and the instructor.

This is one example of a good introductory email. Please write your own version.

Hi Dr. ____,

This is ______, the OCT who is excited to be working with you and your M/W 1:15 PWR2 class on Political Photography this quarter.  I wanted to confirm the (tentative) dates and times of the in-class visits that Janet forwarded to me. Those are:

Mon/Wed 4/21-4/23 : Lead breakout groups

Mon/Wed 4/28-4/30: Feedback on talks

Mon/Wed 5/19-5/21: Lead breakout groups

I was wondering if I would be able to meet with you sometime this week or next to discuss the format of the course, the requirements for the students, any changes/additions to the above in-class visit schedule, and just have a general sense of what I can do to help out. Are you available Friday morning, any time before 11:30?

Looking forward to working with you!



Meet with the instructor

Follow the guidelines listed above.  Offer to stay before or after class to discuss goals and expectations.

Clarify expectations

Seek to understand the instructor’s goals for having you in the class; what they need from you, and any details they would like you to know in order to help their students succeed.  You might do any of the following:

  • Get grading rubric or grading criteria
  • Ask about PPT style – What is this instructor looking for (of you and the student)?
  • Ask about presentation time limit – What are the consequences of being over or under time?
  • Ask about logistics – Will you need to bring a camera? Cables?
  • Ask for assignments/handouts
  • Email to know what to bring to class (i.e., equipment)
  • Ask what element of the presentation is most important to the instructor – Is it the intro/hook, the “umph” factor, the visual data…?
  • Ask, “Is there anything else you’d like me to know?”

When visiting a class

  • Arrive at least 5 minutes EARLY.
  • Give concrete feedback. If offering feedback on something that went well, give a specific example. If offering feedback on something that needs improvement, you might suggest an exercise that will help the student.
  • Take notes. You may be asked to provide students with your in‐class notes. If you need time to type notes for students, use un-booked shift time or contact Janet about working extra time outside of class.
  • If you filmed presentations, upload the videos to Stanford Box and share the folder with the instructor by the end of the day at the latest.  Instructions on how to share videos using Stanford Box.

On an ongoing basis

  • Reach out to students. Be friendly and enthusiastic. Your expertise is very valuable to them!
  • Contact Janet about how your assignment is going. If you have concerns or need additional support, don’t hesitate to reach out to Janet and let her know.

Printable Checklist