Wednesday, September 4, 2013

The First Observation

Two nights ago I had class on the brain, even more than usual. I had given my students an excerpt from Plato's Euthyphro to read, which (I will freely admit) practically stumped me the summer before college, and then watched as their writing assignments from the previous day flowed in. Many of them were terrible. I was very concerned. I was convinced that I would walk in the following day, yesterday, to classes with no idea what had happened in the reading, and no interest at all in figuring out some boring text from thousands of years ago. As I lay in bed, I actually started thinking about whether there were any careers besides teaching that I might be cut out for, because this suddenly seemed to be going down the drain. I steeled myself for the worst, and decided I would stay positive regardless of my students' reactions.

Yesterday was also the day I was to be observed for the first time. The dean of faculty is something of an icon here, beloved by students in his AP Art History class and respected by fellow teachers as a font of near-infinite wisdom. He's been instrumental in helping us feel comfortable these first few weeks, and he wasted no time seeing us in action. Frankly, I was excited that he'd be watching what I feared would be my worst class yet; that way, he'd have more advice to give.

So I was a little surprised that things actually went well in the first class. They absolutely got the reading, or at least some of them got some of it, and we got through our analysis of it faster than I'd even expected. I was pretty glad I've been having them ask questions about each reading, because it's a great way to spend class time if you end up with 10 extra minutes (which we did). All in all, though, it was a big confidence boost for the second class, which was the one with the observation. They're usually a little slower on the uptake, largely because they're younger (mostly sophomores), so I tried to take what I'd done for the first group and tweak it for a slightly less receptive audience. It worked well enough: they were engaged with the material (and even seemed to get it, sort of!) and I managed to get through the whole 45 minutes without letting the presence of another adult throw me off. 

And he seemed happy with how things went! We're having a longer meeting today to talk things through, but he offered some very complimentary thoughts immediately after class, which was a confidence boost through the whole day. No matter what happens with my future in teaching, I think I'll remember yesterday for that turnaround: to wake up thinking it might be all over and go to sleep having heard that I'm off to a good start was a quantum leap for one day's work. It was awfully nice to hear; now I hope I don't get lazy for future classes.

Taught first period today and now I'm done for the day; just meetings to go, plus a little performance at our first Open Mic Night (our faculty a cappella group is making its debut!). Time to take a moment to relax.

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