Guest lecturer for Dr. Marsh’s MMG 302: Introductory Microbiology Lecture

Undergrads are like dogs.  They can smell fear.
10 minutes before class:                Undergrads are like dogs. They can smell fear.

Dr. Marsh had to be out of town this week and asked me if I could help out with his ~400 student lecture on Monday.  I have been a teaching assistant for the lab portion of the course in the past, but this was my first time helping with the lecture.  Overall, I was quite anxious about it but also quite excited to get my first taste of a “big” lecture.  I’ve given lectures to ~60 students in the past, but this was much bigger than anything I’ve seen. 

An interesting note is that there’s a certain amount of anonymity that accompanies having 400 students staring at you – the individual faces disappear and turn into a sea of students.  I hope that when I have my own course this is not the case, but it was hard to find a real connection with the students during the lecture.  This lends some understanding to a lecture-focused course if you are intimidated by teaching or just taking over a new course.  Not the ideal situation, but everyone has to start somewhere.

Dr. Marsh was nice enough to supply slides which he has optimized over his years as a professor and I have to say, they were quite good.  I’ve been a guest lecturer in the past, and it truly helps to have good starting materials to make your own.  I had some issues with the “flow” of the materials, but overall I didn’t have many alterations.  Similarly, I know what knowledge is required for success in the lab, but my knowledge of the lecture portion was too limited to go off the beaten track.  Thus, I added my own flare to the slides but didn’t change any of the base materials.  And by flare, I mean humor.

I hate, and I mean HATE, dry lectures.  If you’re going to sit at the front of the room and talk to students for 50 minutes straight, you better have a bit of a stand-up comedian in you.  In today’s age of computers, tablets, and smartphones in the classroom – if the students aren’t entertained…I can guarantee that they aren’t paying attention.  As it has been a few days since the lecture, I’ve had several students come find me and say they enjoyed the lecture (success!).  Let’s hope they took some understanding from it also.

Overall, minus one technology snafu (I must have bumped the jump drive holding my PowerPoint) it went very smoothly.  My nerves instantly disappeared once I started teaching and my timing was spot on.  I hope that I get the opportunity to do such a lecture again, and I’ll be sure to update when I do.

As for now, here are some funny quotes from students:

Girl A:  Someone threw up in the hallway outside.

Me:  Uhh…ok?

Girl A:  Maybe you should do something about that?

Me:  I’m not really the professor, so I don’t know who to contact.

Girl A:  Well, good luck with that.

*Girl A storms off*


Girl B:  There were no clicker questions.

Me:  Yeah, I wasn’t told to have any.  Sorry.

Girl B:  I came in on St. Patty’s day.  I came in on St. Patty’s day and there were no clicker questions…

*Girl B storms off*



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