Student C: Kira, man, you say some weird stuff!
Kira: Only when I open up my mouth.
I know I can't get them all, but I get a lot of them interested and thinking. Today's discussion was interesting because the question I asked them and the criteria I set blew some of the kids away. See, the chapter we read involved different views on marriage. So, I started out the class by writing the words, "Why get married?" on the board. Then I pointed out that in some families, certain things are just expected. Nobody questions them. You go to college. You get married. You have kids. But the very fact that we don't question them means we don't have the motivation then to go through with it, so we don't finish college...we don't deal well with our children...we get divorced. I like making them think about situations that they don't normally question. It's good for them.
I feel like I'm a decent teacher, but I'm not really sure I'm in a position to give advice for most issues. However, I just found out today that my name came up in a discussion about Eng 103, and I'm going to be interviewed so that my advice can be written up to the new TA teachers who are given Eng 103 to teach. What the heck? Why me? I am mystified. I have never taken any education classes nor gone through Practicum. All I do is run on instinct. I have no idea how to tell other teachers to...teach! What have I learned that I can possibly share? I dunno. I've been thinking about this all day. I'm a little nervous over the idea that my words will be treated as wisdom on this subject.
This is what I've mulled over:
1) Make sure you get your kids to care about you and the class. That means you don't act distant, lordly, or above them. You should make sure that the friendliness and accessibility doesn't cross over too far so that you are no longer a teacher first and foremost, but when you show your kids that you care, they respond oh so much better than when you keep yourself aloof.
2) Find a way to make it relevant to them. No matter what the materials, make sure they understand why they should care. If you don't make that clear, they just won't put out the work they need to do.
3) Get them to think. Critical reasoning is a skill so many lack. On every topic, get them to question and think. Get them to argue for things they don't even believe in just to exercise that brain.
4) Always make yourself available via email and after class for that one-on-one time that many students simply NEED.
5) Be willing to adapt. Each class is a living organism that will have different needs. Listen carefully so that you can figure out what this class needs over that class, and then do it.
Hmm. That's all I can think of for now beyond the obvious (always be prepared for class and do your research; have backups in case something doesn't work, too; etc).
My dear Ariana got the lead in the little play her school is putting on. The part was for "the crocodile guy," and she was one of two kids out of thirteen who were voted by classmates as the best for the part, despite being a girl. Ariana then practiced the part diligently, and she then was voted by her classmates as the better of the two choices (the other fellow was actually a guy). So, now they are rewriting certain sections to say the "crocodile gal." Go Ari! She's such a little ham. When she was practicing for the part, Alex and I--former theatre geeks from high school ourselves--eagerly jumped in and gave her all sorts of advice. The best part was simply that she seemed to be having so much fun with it!
Ok, so Juanita has given me a tag. I guess I have to do it!
Here's her suggestion-- I'm going to make up a new game and it goes like this: Reveal five things that you WISH were your deepest, darkest secrets.
Okay. Here we go!
1) It's so hard for me to make a decision when every top named Uni in the USA wants me to enter into their PhD program in English. I guess I just might draw a name from a hat. I know that's not a good way to decide, but when Yale, Harvard, Stanford, Princeton, and Brown all want you and are offering you a full fellowship, what's a girl to do?
2) They just won't sell me alcohol anywhere even though my driver's license is clearly not a fake because the folks insist I look under 21 no matter what the numbers state. So, I get Alex, my nine years younger husband, to buy it for me.
3) My domicile is so huge and vast that it looks empty. I simply have too much storage space and stretching out room. What a pain to clean!
4) It's embarrassing to have had two children yet be able to bounce quarters off my stomach. Nobody will believe that Ariana and Jared are mine because I'm so fit!
5) Having a fantastic memory is not all it's cracked up to be. I can't forget anything, anywhere. Sometimes it's helpful--like I don't need to take a list to the grocery--but sometimes it's not, like when I want to not remember something stupid somebody said.
There. That'll work. I won't tag anybody, but if you want to try this one on for size, go for it!