Saturday, June 11, 2011

Things are looking up

Earlier this week, I didn't know how I was going to make it through June.  I was having trouble keeping up with writing lectures, and feeling like I didn't know enough about WWII, and then in the midst of all my stress I got a computer virus and ended up wiping my hard drive.*  And then ended up having more problems with re-installing everything, and making silly mistakes, and ended up wiping the hard drive about four different times until I got it right.  Because, you know, in a week where you're hardly getting enough sleep and are buried under a pile of work, you have time to wipe your hard drive and re-install Windows and all your programs and drivers four times. 

Earlier this week, I also felt like I was The Worst Teacher In Existence.  I worried that I wasn't understanding the content well enough and that my students were not learning what they needed to learn, and maybe were regretting taking a class from a new instructor. 

And then things started to change.  By the end of the week, I had a couple of really good classes, and worked to make sure that I went back and reviewed the important stuff so that they understood.  And I started finding little ways to get through to them; having a couple of discussion classes helped so that we could all get comfortable with each other. 

It's nice having 35 students, and seeing them every weekday.  I'm gradually getting to know each student, and each student's particular learning needs and styles.  I'm learning how to communicate differently with the science majors and the English majors, and how to get each of them to understand how a historian researches and learns. 

And now? I love my students.  They're all so eager to understand everything and to do well.  They approach me before class, because they found a neat source and wanted to show me how cool it is.  They send me emails about colorized footage that they found on Youtube.  They humour me when I make them watch clips of Casablanca at the beginning of their discussion class, and laugh at the right parts. 

I felt so proud when I saw the student that told me she was too shy to speak up in discussion class make a real effort and take charge of her discussion group.  I get excited when I watch them all become friends, and watch as a class dynamic develops. 

At this rate, I think I'm really going to miss them after the course is over.

* By the way, thanks to Laptopocalypse 2011, I finally ditched McAfee, which was useless and then so very user-non-friendly after I wiped my hard drive.  I read a million reviews and have now switched to ESET, and I love it so much that I want to write about it in all-caps and many exclamation points all the time.  Half the price of McAfee! And apparently it's amazingly effective! And it runs so quietly in the background! Why the heck did I stay with McAfee for all those years?  Seriously, after the week I had, if I could hug a security suite, I would hug ESET.


C said...

yeah! sounds like you are doing really well! The hardest part is to tell if you have engaged them in the subject matter, and obviously you have if they are sending you links to stuff! YAY!

(I totally mentally just gave you my grandmother's thumbs up fist!)

The Blog Fodder said...

Even the Freebies are better than Norton or McAffee. I'm using a paid for version of Avast. I'm told the best is Kaspersky Lab. it is Russian built and should be good. I think the Russians build most of the viruses too.

The Blog Fodder said...

You have connected with your class. It does feel great doesn't it? Casablanca is my favourite movie of all time because so much of it is now part of our language. Historically it is about as fanciful as they come.

Queen of West Procrastination said...

Hooray for encouraging comments!

Uncle Al, you would have loved how I used Casablanca: I made the students think about the boundaries of what is "propaganda" and what is just regular culture, and then showed them the "Marseillaise" scene.

Also: now that I'm reading through all the product reviews for security software, I find it fascinating that the real fight for "best antivirus software" is being fought between a Russian and a Slovak company. Both companies win awards for being the best company, and the fighting between the fans of each is really surprisingly fierce.

...and meanwhile, the two American companies rely more on throwing a lot of money at advertisement and corporate partnerships, and forget to actually make security software that works and doesn't bog down your computer.