Imma Learn You

This is who I modeled my teaching techniques after

So, I’ve been absent from the blogosphere, MIA from GChat, and less engulfed in Twitter than I usually am for these past two weeks. Those of you who follow me on twitter are probably well aware of the fact that I’ve been teaching a Pre-Calculus class this summer and it’s been taking a lot of my time. The class was a part of a 2-week long bridge program for incoming freshmen. It doesn’t count towards their transcript, but the students and the program take it seriously nonetheless. It’s no secret that I really enjoy teaching and mentoring in general (see my School Daze post). Seeing the positive results that come from imparting not just knowledge and information, but also practical wisdom and advice to the youth is what ultimately motivates me to want to teach. I feel like I have a talent for communicating things to people in a way that’s easy to understand, an infectious personality that makes people listen to me, and a large amount of patience to see the job through. The only issue is, I’ve never actually taught a structured class until now.

I’ve spent time being a mentor-of-sorts, giving presentations and workshops, being a teaching assistant, and tutoring kids (including my little brother and sister). However, I’ve never taught a class on my own. I’ve never gone through the process of making a syllabus, putting together a lesson plan, assigning homework, giving quizzes and exams, and grading assignments. Let me tell you something: it’s hard (#twss). My first few lectures were atrocious to put it kindly. Now, I’m a known procrastinator (who isn’t?) and I’m no stranger to putting together a bomb ass presentation at the last minute. This was different though. I was tripping over my own words and finding it hard to improvise without sounding like an idiot. Needless to say, I had grossly underestimated how difficult of a task this was and overestimated my ability to freestyle my way through the lectures.

By the middle of the week, nothing had really changed. I kept trying to organize my lectures better, but didn’t see any improvement in my teaching. At that point, I had had enough of embarrassing myself and did something very uncharacteristic. I went to the Director of the program, the person who sought me out to teach this class, and…..admitted how ineffective I had been and that I needed help. FYI for those who may not be aware: I almost never ask for help. I’d much rather keep my pride intact than bring my flaws to light. It’s something that I’m working on though. Anyway, I felt like it was my responsibility to be honest even if I was condemning myself at the same time. The Director gave me a quick pep talk, got me to stop beating myself up about it, and offered some words of advice.

Now I don’t know if it was her words that did it or if everything just randomly started clicking for me, but after that day my lectures were pretty bomb. I was much more effective in my delivery and organization and was able to get the students to participate and be more engaging. I could tell that they were actually enjoying my class. Call me Stella, cause I got my groove back. No? Call me Austin Powers, cause I found my mojo. Try again? Call me Ron Burgundy, cause I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany. o_O

Anyway, I learned a lot these past two weeks about the process that teachers go through and what it’s like to teach. And even though I had a really rough time with it in the beginning, the positive results that I experienced in the end did more to solidify my passion than my embarrassment did to deter me. Teaching is tough, but amazingly rewarding. But for now, I go back to being a student again. #PHDeez