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Monday, September 12, 2005
The worst teacher in the world
That's me. Or at least that's how I feel about myself today, after another miserable meeting of my comp class. I hate this class. And although I know that many of the things that make it so miserable aren't my fault, I can't help but feel that, if I were a better teacher, it would be fun, lively, and productive at least some of the time.
I taught my first comp class last fall at INRU, and it was fantastic. It was a ton of work, of course, and along the way I made mistakes and learned a bunch of things not to do in the future--but overall I was really happy with my management of the class and with the fact that most of my students visibly improved as writers over the course of the semester. Based upon that experience, I was quite content to be assigned a comp class at Big Urban; in fact, I was looking forward to it.
But. There are some problems. At Big Urban, all the comp classes follow a standard syllabus organized around a topic that I personally find only passingly interesting--and that apparently my students find even less interesting. We read only one or two very short pieces per class, none of which have been substantive enough to sustain more than 20 or 30 minutes of discussion apiece. And yet my class periods are ONE HUNDRED AND TEN MINUTES. Add to this the fact that the class meets laaaate in the afternoon and the chemistry among my students is decidedly lackluster. . . and, yeah. Very bad.
I've been trying to incorporate short writing activities and group projects that build on our readings while also building writing skills--write the introductory paragraph for an imaginary 4-page paper on topic X; find three pieces of evidence that support and three that challenge a thesis we've just constructed--but everything feels just so, so painful. We'll have several good exchanges in a class period, where six or seven kids will get briefly engaged, but those good moments are punctuated by long lulls in which the most straightforward and focused questions produce NOTHING.
And the thing that kills me is that I know they're hating it, too--hating the readings, hating the pace of the class, hating the fact that they can't give me what I want (because really, at least half of them seem like good, hardworking kids; they just aren't interested in or able to engage with the material in any extended way). But what can I do? If it were my own course, I'd double or triple the amount of reading--and pick better fucking readings to begin with--and cut the class period by 30 or 40 minutes. But it's not, and I'm not allowed to do those things.
All I can do is grind my teeth and anticipate my hideous teaching evaluations.
link | posted by La Lecturess at 10:33 PM |
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