Monday, June 06, 2011

Telegrams from Teaching Land

I am very tired.  Today I taught my third day (and sixth hour) of the 3-week WWII course, and each day it gets a little better.  I'm getting more comfortable in my role as The Instructor, especially as I get to know the students.  It's weird: I've done all the specific jobs that an instructor does (lecture, mark, design courses, facilitate seminars), but never all at once, and never as The Person Who Is In Charge And Has To Make Decisions.  It's a little scary, especially since I've never had to lecture outside of my area of expertise before, and I need act a little less frightened when I'm borderline-faking expertise.  (Why hello there, Second Sino-Japanese War and the entirety of China's history.  I only dealt with you briefly in a single Japanese History survey course ten years ago.)

I like my group of students more and more every day.  It's a big group for a June course, with the whole range from fourth-year History majors to first-year non-majors, from pretty much every single program at the university.  That's been one of my big challenges: finding a way to make it accessible for the beginners (especially since this is an entry-level course), while accommodating for the fact that some of the fourth-years know more about specific topics than I do.  (They intimidated me for the first couple of days.)  That's getting better: on the one hand, I'm learning how to explain things better for the beginners, to time for them to take notes, and to anticipate their questions.  On the other hand, I took twenty minutes this morning and made the class debate some difficult questions, which allowed the fourth years a chance to shine.

So, I'm surviving.  Each day is a little easier, and maybe at some point I'll get a little faster at preparing the lectures, and get a little more sleep at night.  But for now, if you're looking for me, I'll be napping under my desk, holding the textbook open at the description of Operation Barbarossa. 


becs said...

Hope it keeps getting easier for you! Growth is great, and stretching is never comfortable, but you can do it! xoxo

Cramsey said...

Make them watch "Ip Man".

gramsey said...

You go girl! Lecturing is pretty much done on a wing and a prayer - and you are such a live-wire and so clever, you will definitely triumph, and the students will love you.

Best advice about teaching I got from my mentor: some days go well, some not so well, and it's not especially dependent on your performance, as some days the students will inexplicably react unsatisfactorily. So leave each lecture behind you and just look onwards and upwards.

In the words of Jasper Friendly-Bear, 'stay calm, be brave and watch for the signs'.

markdynna said...

Hey MA, you know any time you want to discuss ANY of those topics, maybe "dry run" some lectures, or just get some feedback you can give me a ring. You know I'm a huge WWII geek and I'll discuss any part of that period of history with you anytime you want.