brief thoughts on my own class
Previously, I said that I'm not going to talk about my actual students or class except in very general ways like "fun!" or "I gave a crappy lecture," because I am not an anonymous blogger. This is still true. I won't tell you (dear blogosphere) anything that I haven't said to them already. This is not to say I don't have anything to talk about. :)
I said that my class did miserably as a group on the grammar diagnostic, and now I can say that they did average
as a group on the essay diagnostic. I was (honestly) able to say something positive about each essay, followed by a ton of "here are things you should focus on and hey, guess what? they're exactly the things you'll learn in this class" kinds of comments. I had a couple students who wrote what would have been B+/A- essays right out of the gate, and some who wrote what would have been D essays. But the vast majority fell squarely in what would have been the C range. I was pleased, and we finally got down to business on day three.
Remarkably enough, by the end of day three I could match names and faces. Sure, I only have twenty-five students, but I am so bad with names that I assumed I'd have to wing it for most of the semester. Not so. I think the part of your brain used to store student information fires itself up when it knows it is faced with remembering important things. I couldn't tell you the names of eight of the twelve people in my poetry seminar, but I know every single one of the twenty-five students in my class. Whew. One hurdle down.
By the middle of day three, people were talking and we did a collaborative exercise re: writing a narrative essay and they seemed to dig it. Then we went around the room and did the "tell us about yourself" routine, and people were making connections with each other either because they went to rival high schools or a bunch of them liked tennis, etc. Hooray.
I have more than a few students who spent the last few years in remedial classes (some schools call them developmental classes, which I think is far more positive-sounding than remedial!), and they were not shy about saying so in their intros, because they were so proud to have made it through. That was pretty cool, but the really cool part comes next (or maybe I'm just easy to please). The writing exercise for the day was to write some sort of narrative about yourself (just a paragraph), and it turns out that one of the former remedial students, one who was at the low end of the group based on the diagnostic, wrote the best paragraph. It would be a perfect example of what I planned to talk about in our next class, so I e-mailed the student to see if she would be ok with me using it as an example and having her read it to the class and using it to jumpstart the discussion. She was very happy. I was very happy. It was pretty darn cool.
So, day four of class (wednesday the 6th) will be day two of actual teaching. It is also the day that the TA coordinator/my boss/my thesis advisor/thankfully an all-around-good-guy will visit my classroom and sit in the back and freak me out. Good thing I'm confident about what we're doing that day!