Saturday, July 21, 2007

Lessons from the first week

So, this being the first substantial post here, I should probably do the expected, "Hello World!" thing and explain why we have started the blog and what to expect from it. But you know, those sorts of posts aren't very interesting to read, and we probably don't have any readers yet anyhow. So I won't. 'kay?

This is a teaching blog, so let's talk about teaching.

I've just reached the end of my first week as a real! live! lecturer. I've tutored before (that's TA-ing for those of you on the other side of the world). But this is the first time I have been totally in charge of a whole course, including course design, assessment, lecturing, administration and running the tutorials as well.

I think the first week went pretty well, considering. There was the brief gasp and whispers from the students at the first lecture as I walked up to the front. "She's the LECTURER? I thought she was a student!" and "Oh my god, I was, like, TALKING to her before class!" Meaning, presumably, that if she'd known I was her lecturer, she would have ostracized me instead, as is right and proper.

I started well, breaking the ice by accidentally removing the cap on the whiteboard marker too quickly and having it fly across the room and hit a student on the head.

And then I made a few remarks in the first couple of classes that, in retrospect, I probably should have skipped. Like the bit where I got carried away and taught them the term "morphosyntax."

"Morphosyntax. Morphosyntactic. Morphosyntactician," I wrote these on the board and explained them. Then, "Actually, you probably don't need to know these for this class. But they are cool words. And you can use them to impress people at parties. Like, hey, I do morphosyntax."

Cue incredulous looks from the students.

"Okay, so maybe I go to better parties than you do."

And then there was the bit where I decided I was doing too much talking, and illustrated my point about syntactic variation across English dialects by writing out three constructions and asking the students to tell me which they found grammatical. "Right, so from your replies, it seems that Australians like the first and third of these, but not the second. If you were American, or Scottish, you probably would have preferred the second over the third." I should have stopped there, but the next bit completely bypassed my brain and came out of my mouth all by itself. "Of course, I knew how you were going to answer. But I wanted you to feel like I valued your participation."

Memo to self: be less honest. They don't need to know EVERYTHING that runs through your head at any given moment.


Queen of West Procrastination said...

Dear goodness, I do exactly that. I am way too transparent when I'm lecturing, which means that I'm always The Crazy One in the room.

wwwmama said...

Ha Ha! That's hilarious.