No Fancy Name
Thursday, September 07, 2006
observation day
Yesterday was Day 4 of my comp class, but Day 2 of actual teaching. It also happened to be the day the TA Coordinator/my thesis adviser/man-holding-my-future-in-his-hands scheduled as his observation day (first of two). Argh! Gah! Stress! Ok, truthfully I didn't have much of that. I actually volunteered to go first. I wanted to get it over with, and I also wanted him in there at a time when the students were still shiny and new and participatory. (I'm kidding...kind of...)

I had a plan for Day 4, and through some miracle we actually did everything on my list and only had two minutes left at the end. True, if we hadn't gone on a five-minute tangent about poor Pluto, we would have had more time left at the end, but it all worked out. My plan included a reading quiz at the beginning followed by several distinct blocks of discussion, and the students were talkative and smart. Boy oh boy does that make things easier, and far less boring than me standing up there and lecturing about the narrative essay.

After class, the "debrief" went something like this: it was fine, class has an identity, they're responsive, etc etc, what do you think? I said, "I just don't know what to do with myself," which is absolutely true. My biggest problem right now is that I don't know where to stand...and I totally forgot I had a huge chalkboard behind me, and could write things all over it for the visual learners and such. Duh. We used the chalkboard extensively last week, and yesterday? Totally ignored it. Then again, if those are my biggest issues, I'm starting at an ok place.

The thing about not knowing where to stand, it's partially because we have stupid furniture in the classroom. The room is jam-packed with chairs, then there's a large rectangular table at the front. I stand behind the table because if I stand in front of it I'll be smushed against the first row of students. If I shove the table to the wall so I can walk in front of it, then I won't be able to use the chalkboard. So, I just have to get used to wandering outside of the bounds of the table (outside of the safety zone!). All of the critical things the observer had to say matched the critical things I had to say, so again—totally on the same page. Thank god.

On Wednesday, the students turn in their first essay-that-counts, and it's an out-of-class essay. I'm actually looking forward to grading them, to see where everyone really stands. I think many of them will be quite good.

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