Friday, May 05, 2006

A-lecturing I went

The lecture that I panicked about here happened yesterday. And thanks to everyone's very helpful suggestions (in the comment thread of that post), I think it went quite well.

I even managed to make it a little bit interactive by using Turtlebella's idea of getting the students to write down a few ideas on index cards. I basically showed them sentences from six languages and got them to write down a few ideas about different ways you could group them into sets of languages with something in common.

Then I put some of the ideas up on the board and used them as a jumping-off-point for the lecture. This worked extremely well with the first class, but in the repeat lecture at 5 o'clock no one wrote anything down at all, but instead just sat there like stunned rabbits caught in the terrifying headlights of having to think for themselves. I think it was a combination of it being late in the day, so they were all tired, and the small group size (the midday lecture was around 100 students; the evening one less than 30). But I muddled through that and the rest was pretty cruisy.

Of course I didn't get any feedback from ScaryLecturer, although he sat in on the second lecture, (which might have been another reason why the students in that group were more reluctant to participate, come to think of it). He just grunted a "thank you" as he left the hall. But I've come to know him well enough to be fairly sure that the lack of feedback was not because my lectures sucked -- if anything, he would have been more likely to tell me exactly what he thought if it was negative.

All in all it was a very positive experience. But considering how exhausted I felt at the end of the day, and how little voice I had left (I had the usual two Thursday tutorials as well as the two lectures), I can't imagine how people do this on a regular basis. Anyone with a heavy lecturing load who is reading this -- I virtually bow before you in virtual long-distance awe.

Update: Just as I was finishing that last sentence, one of my students came to the door to ask me for a copy of some of the data from the lecture that I hadn't put in the handout. He said he couldn't sleep last night for thinking about one of the concepts from the lecture, and that it was so interesting that he wanted to explain it to his girlfriend, but needed the extra data to be able to be able to talk about it properly.

So the little voice in my head has been upgraded from "I can give two big grown-up lectures and survive" to "I give lectures that keep students awake and made them think".

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grace said...

Wow! Well done! And students following you to your office, too!!

I gather some lecturers find lecturing much easier than others. One I knew of when I was at Uni said that he got the abject terrors every single time he had to lecture, and he'd been doing it for years! Imagine how exhausting THAT would be.

Sounds like you're a natural, though. ;-)

Lucy said...

yay! I'm glad it went well :)

enn said...

Congratulations, StyleyGeek! What a compliment to have a student say he couldn't sleep for thinking over the things you said. Will you be podcasting the lecture for your fans here?

turtlebella said...

I think blogger ate my comment. poop. Mostly I just wanted to add my congrats that it all went so well! Even if those silly kids in the second class got all deer-in-the-headlights on you. And awesome about the student coming to get the extra data- too too cool!

StyleyGeek said...

Thanks, everyone, for those kind comments. And for your helpful suggestions in the first place!

Grace -- that would be horrible. I don't think I could do a job for years that sent me into a state of terror on a regular basis!