Teaching at the university is a blessing - every semester is an opportunity to meet new students and be a part of their academic and personal development.
As the new semester starts, I find it appropriate to give my students a PEP talk. In competitive sports, we often see teams in a huddle. In those huddles, we see someone giving a pep talk to encourage the team and to emphasize the team strategies and tactics.
Like those teams, we all want to win in the classroom environment - most especially for those classes that train engineering students on the various skills that they need for their careers.
My PEP talk is somewhat different. My PEP talk at the start of the semester summarizes my teaching philosophy and what they would expect for the rest of the semester. PEP stands for: prepare, engage, and push.
Be the best teacher/coach/mentor possible. I give my commitment to my students to be the best teacher, coach or mentor by thoroughly preparing before every class.
Provide immediate, constructive feedback. There are numerous ways to engage students (more here). For skills-based classes, providing on-the-spot feedback is crucial. I emphasize that in reality, there are no grades: it's just reject, revise, or accept.
Building trust based on the teacher's preparation and the ability to engage students create the authority for one to be able to get to the part on "Push". Not doing those two will create the perception that the teacher is just making life difficult for the students.
Make them practice, practice, and practice. Analogous to a coach, setting numerous drills and drawing up various scenarios will help students adapt and rise to future challenges.
(This PEP talk was the introductory part of my talk on "Technologies for Classroom Management" given to faculty members of General Engineering courses at Qatar University, on the 9th of February 2015).