Graduate students have wisdom, life experience, and a desire to actually be in school. But graduate students also are old enough to know that ideas have consequences, and as a result they run, basically, on fear. They have refrains like "t;I didn't think that idea would be any good, so I didn't mock it up,"t; or "t;I wasn't sure what to build, so I read these books."t;
Treat the undergrads like they're grown-ups (which they are); show them crazy respect, and ask their opinions all the time. Tell your graduate students to stop talking and start building; tell them not to come to class next week if they don't bring in 12 sketches. And then thank your lucky stars when they arrive with 3.
Teach them to write thank you notes.
Designers need other people―for research, collaboration, support, everything. But people skills are hard to teach. This one's easy. Thank you notes are the right way to do business (or pleasure), and will help inject some civility back into this world.
You don't teach a class.
You teach a group of individuals. Whether it's a lecture or studio or seminar or fieldtrip, you must never forget that you are teaching unique students who happen to show up at the same time and at the same place.
Watch their faces.
Teachers have their fingers on two sets of dials: One set for each of the students (see above); another―the Masters―for the class as a whole. You've gotta be attenuating one while monitoring reverberations through the other. A class is a dynamic system changing minute-to-minute, depending on time of day, empty stomachs, the sun outside. And the VU meters for this system? Your students' faces. Read them and you'll know how you're doing. (Tip: Stop talking long enough to do that.)
Be clear about your grading scheme.
There are those who grade for excellence and those who grade for effort. For some teachers, "t;'A work' is 'A work'...I don't care if they spent 40 minutes or 40 hours;"t; that in the real world, results are what get judged, and that "t;you're not doing them any favors"t; by giving them any other grade than one which reflects their finished product. I grade for effort. I believe that if they kill themselves over the length of a semester, they will come up with excellence. And they'll learn more. Both of these grading schemes are defendable, but you should tell your students which one you use. And then use it.
Know when to quit, or to start anew.
If you start to "t;watch yourself teach"t; during a class, it's either time to hang it up or to change courses. The most dangerous design teachers are the ones who think they've seen it all, who pigeonhole students before seeing their work, and don't think they can be surprised any longer. No joke here; if this is you, time's up.