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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fall Semester: Day Two

On balance, things went pretty well, at least on the teaching end of things (I'll spare you the drama of my morning attempts to get to campus--the connecting train that wasn't there, the expensive ticket on an alternate train service, the taxi cab, etc.).

The morning section of my survey was great, though I'm not sure it was particularly due to anything I did; my lesson plan and my ideas were solid enough, but I think it's really the fact that I have such lively, eager, and smart kids in that section. Every question I asked--"why does this poem begin this way?"; "what seems to constitute a good king in this society?"--got me all kinds of raised hands, and mostly pretty thoughtful responses. By contrast, my afternoon class was sluggish and just didn't seem that into the material. I had perhaps five obviously engaged students, who were giving me good stuff, but the rest seemed to be bored and/or uninterested.

But whatever. If the success of my morning class isn't entirely my own doing, I refuse to regard the not-quite-success of my afternoon class as entirely my doing, either.

As for my comp class--I'm going to have to whup their asses next week. Through a minor miracle, I managed to secure a TV/VCR after all, and so was able to screen the very cool, very provocative video with which the course is supposed to start. (I'd run into the director of the writing program a few hours earlier and mentioned in passing all the drama I was having with Media Services; he was outraged and promised to give them a call. I wasn't expecting much, but when I showed up for class, lo, there sat the media cart.)

I'm sure the movie surprised and perhaps discomfited some of them, but even after filling out worksheets as they watched that directed them toward some of the key issues, they had . . . nothing much to say about it. Even very general questions--"what surprised you about this, what did you like, what did you dislike?"--went mostly unanswered. Now, admittedly this is the remedial comp class, which gets those students who need to work up their writing skills before they can take the required comp class, but having marginal writing skills does not, last time I checked, necessitate having marginal thinking skills, or a dearth of opinions.

I did have two students who had some great things to say, but in a class of 16 they just couldn't carry the conversation themselves--and no one else seemed to want to engage with or respond to them. I really can't figure it out: are these kids bored? shy? uncomfortable? Who knows. But in any case, I'm going to have to give them a stern lecture next week about the importance of participation, and I'll force them to work in groups and talk to each other if I have to.

link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:21 PM |


Blogger Tiruncula commented at 7:38 AM~  

"why does this poem begin this way?"; "what seems to constitute a good king in this society?"

Ooh, I know what you're teaching! I get to do the same thing next week. Glad at least the morning crew rose to the occasion.

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