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Friday, March 17, 2006

Pre-teaching exercises

Now, I realize that not everyone out there in the blogosphere teaches four hour-and-twenty-minute classes in seven and a half hours, as I do, which is indeed something of an endurance test, but as this semester enters its second half I've become aware of the various exercises and preparations that I go through on my teaching days--and I'm curious whether anyone else has any of their own.

Before my first class:
I limber up with arm, neck, and back stretches (I teach all my classes standing). Depending on what I'm wearing, I may swing my arms around and make more extravagent movements, but I always roll my shoulders and neck and bend forward and back several times.
Before every class:
  • I pop some peppermint gum (Dentyne Ice) to get rid of nasty coffee or lunch breath,
  • Fix my lipstick and make sure there's nothing in my teeth,
  • Pat my face with tissue to get rid of excess oil,
  • Refill my water bottle.
In addition, during my longish mid-day break:
I take off my shoes and stretch my toes and feet and roll my ankles. I also tend to do leg and back stretches during this time, and I often suck on a throat lozenge or two.
I've never acted or played a sport, but I'm struck by the way that teaching a full courseload has got me thinking of my body and its care and capabilities as a performer would. Not just, "what persona do I need to project?", but, "what do I need to do to allow me to project that persona? And how can I keep all of my parts in good working order?"

link | posted by La Lecturess at 11:51 PM |


Blogger Tiruncula commented at 12:08 PM~  

That is a very good idea. I've never done it consciously - don't know why, because I would for any other performance - but I should. I certainly will remember to establish such a routine next time I'm teaching a lecture class instead of a sit-around-yacking class. If (big if) my office had thick enough walls, I might sing a little bit before heading off to class, just to get the lungs working properly, because I know I tend to sit in my office in the middle of the day letting my throat get all constricted with office air.

Blogger Yr. Hmbl. & Obdt. commented at 1:31 PM~  

I'm impressed--the most I've ever lectured in one day is 4 straight hours (ten minute break in the middle)--but in terms of 'taking care of myself,' I'm the equivalent of the coffee-drinking and chain-smoking bundle of nervous energy who jolts himself up and keeps himself high while performing, then goes home and crashes with the help of booze. Oh my god, I'm Judy Garland...

Blogger Stellaluna commented at 1:38 PM~  

It's so strange that you should talk about this today! I've been thinking a lot about the connection between teaching and acting this week, as well as trying to develop techniques that will help me stay "loose" in the classroom. I teach to 90 minute sections back to back, and I realize that by the end, I'm just worn out. I was thinking that I should head over to the theater department on campus to ask about techniques that actors do to maintain awareness of their bodies, as well as to release the tension that seems to build up during a "performance." I tend to think of my classes as performances, although I almost never lecture continuously and I see student participating as central to learning. Let us know if you know of any "acting" approaches that might help.

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