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Working with Students

A few things that have worked well for me(an engineer) in interactions with the students on the robotics team.

I consider myself on the same intellectual level, or even below, as the students... I just have more experience to draw from... Viewing them as equals helps facilitate the knowledge transfer. "Guide by your side instead of Sage on the stage"... 

I know that if they aren't understanding the material, I'm probably not describing it properly, because if I can understand it, they should be able to too... 

But, I also have to recognize the 13-17years of additional training and experience that I have had and recognize that sometimes I need to introduce only the relevant parts of the concept to get the job done. Cover enough that they can apply the knowledge outside of the direct context of the problem at hand.

I know that I would have totally understood a bulk of the material I learned in college in high school if the material was presented in application, like robots. 

1) Recognize that they are very intelligent but have little to no experience (assume they know nothing technical). These are unmarred blank slates!

2) Learn their names... This is a many fold benefit, but primarily: it show's you care, provides positive feedback when recognizing them, you can call on the student directly if they aren't paying attention or are causing a distraction. 

3) Don't be afraid to raise your voice to gather attention at the close of a group activity, these are excited and passionate individuals, be patient and this is where knowing names helps a lot. The student leaders should help keep order too.

4) Respect their time, Have a plan, at least have talking points and a first pass at a solution to anything you are working on. 
4b) Don't let any individuals fall idle... Ones that finish early can be given a more complicated challenge or help other students... typically more complicated challenges work out better.
4c) Have pictures and props, do not attempt to describe technical concepts verbally. 

5) Avoid talking for too long(>10 minutes) between hands on activities

6) Intelligent people require a "why", be honest when it's just because you feel like it, this is actually an answer they will accept.