Prof. Morten Schlütter, who is the Chair of the Department of Religious Studies, University of Iowa, observed my classroom on October 28, 2020. The write-up below is his official review of my classroom teaching.
The section I observed took place on Zoom. It was a relatively small section, with twelve students and everyone was there. Pranav began with some remarks about weather, then asked the students how they were, and talked about his own plans for the afternoon. It is clear that he had a very good rapport with the students. Pranav then talked about the upcoming term paper, reminded the students of the deadlines, and encouraged them to seek help with any questions from the instructor or from himself.
He then introduced the topic of women in Buddhism, which have been discussed in this week’s lectures. Via Zoom, Pranav sent the students a few short texts that had been displayed on PowerPoint in class, and put everyone into breakout rooms with three or four people. After about six minutes students came out of the breakout rooms and a representative from each group summarized their discussion. Then a general discussion took place where several students made their own comments and Pranav responded and asked further questions. After about 15 minutes, Pranav turned to issues in Buddhist thought that had also been lectured on in the class this week. Here he displayed two PowerPoint slides that were used in class, and asked student for questions about concepts they have difficulty with.
Several students had questions, to which Pranav responded very knowledgeably, and there were several follow-up questions as well. Pranav explained the concepts very clearly, and also made sure that the students felt that their questions have been answered. This was a very well conducted section, and it was clear that the students appreciated Pranav and felt comfortable speaking and asking questions in the class. Pranav has been a TA for several other of my classes, and he has always received high marks from the students. He is clearly a very competent and caring teacher.
Dr. Vasiliki Kostopoulou observed my classroom on April 24, 2015. She was then a Lecturer in the Department of Classics and the Director of the Post Baccalaureate Program at the University of Iowa. Her official review of my classroom teaching has been reproduced below.
On April 24 I observed Pranav Prakash’s discussion section of Classical Myth and I really enjoyed it. Pranav is a competent and engaging teacher and it was a pleasure for me to see him teaching.
The class started on a “sweet” note, literally. Pranav passed around chocolates as a reward for a previous quiz, creating from the beginning an open, though still professional classroom environment. Then he proceeded to make announcements for upcoming assignments. After projecting on the screen the exact breakdown of the grading and the assignments’ objectives, he clarified his expectations thoroughly. It was obvious that his positive tone helped the students focus and realize how important their engagement in their own learning endeavor is.
It was in the next part of the hour, however, that Pranav showed both his good rapport with his students and his excellent organizational skills. His students were asked to present adaptations of classical myths and did an excellent job at that. They must have been given, once again, very clear instructions as they completed their reports smoothly. Pranav took careful notes, while the rest of the class asked thought-provoking questions about the motives behind these adaptations. It was heartening to see students engaged in lively discussions about the “afterlife” of the Argonauts or the Homeric heroes. Giving them enough time to think and rounding their responses with his own remarks, Pranav not only clarified certain concepts but broadened the scope of the students’ original thoughts. Indeed, his students were both attentive and curious as to what he had to say. He had caught their attention, clearly.
There was a natural flow in the class and Pranav was relaxed without, however, ever losing his professionalism. Overall, I found Pranav’s teaching highly effective. He had a clear lesson plan, was very well prepared, and handled his students with graciousness. More importantly, he invited his students to join in the learning process, and they, in turn, responded with enthusiasm. They were focused while also enjoying their time in the classroom. I feel very fortunate to have worked with Pranav, knowing that the students learn from a well-informed instructor whose main priority is to guide them gently through their learning needs.