500 Words At A Time: As A Teacher, Part 2

Yesterday, you learned how I was a teacher for seven weeks. Today, my thoughts on the experience.

Good or bad first? I like to get the bad out of the way, but since they are so entwined I’ll try to do both at the same time.

Students: You do not have a class without students and you cannot teach if you do not have students. There are students who want to learn and those who don’t. There were several students who actively learned, asked questions, and produced quality material. There were several who tried to be disruptive, not do the work, and generally behave like asshats in public. I have been told that professors should not have favorites, but I was not a professor, and I had my favorites. They received encouragement and extra advice. I never said I was a good teacher.

As a side note, I do not know how this happened but there were several students who looked and dressed nearly the same. Because I am horrible with names I was unable to tell them apart until near the end, when their writing separated them in my head. Just a me thing, but it was something that stood out for future reference.

Me: I knew at the time that I was going in with less than optimal knowledge, due to the summer updates. However, even with that in mind I knew that I have a very particular way of teaching or passing on information, which can be problematic for those people who don’t get me. I ran into that with a few students. I tried to adapt, but seven weeks is not enough time, at least for me, but I ended up with a list of things to work on.

It turned out my lack of information was less of an issue than I had been worried about, but that was only because of my overly ambitious, some would say delusional lesson plan. For seven weeks I was going to teach them EVERYTHING I knew about blogging AND get them so enthused that they would become mega-blogggers; even though I knew that the average lifespan for a blogger is around 6 months.

Ever try to tell a bunch of random people that they have to learn something and while learning have to come up with a topic to regularly write about and come up with a name for the place where they will be writing, on the first day? I did. It did not go well. People blog for many reasons, grades are not one of the reasons and never should be. That would be something I would change, if there was another opportunity, back to pass or fail. Thus, when put on the spot, the students did what anyone would do, freeze up. Tack on a ton of information that did not make a lot of sense at first and you get my class.

There were things, such as the potential benefits of blogging that I should have either not talked about or waiting until the end. If you don’t know how to create a blog or have something to write about what does it matter what you could do? At the time it seemed important. So did showing that blogging can be done anywhere at anytime and not just for class. Again, it seemed important at the time.

So much stuff seemed important and that was it’s own problem as I wanted to teach everything I knew. Unfortunately, as the weeks passed the class I started focusing on individual questions, getting frustrated with the students who were not trying, getting frustrated that students were not trying as hard as I hoped, frustrated as my lesson plan fell apart. I don’t work well with my own frustration.

In the end there were the students who got their grades and there were the students who wrote excellent material and kept blogging for a few months after the class ended. In the end, I think I learned more than they did.



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