It Was An Accident

My teaching style happened accidentally. Before I started teaching I didn’t know what it would be like. I thought it would be like giving a really long in-class presentation, but I would be the only one presenting. I had ideas gathered from previous professors, but no clear outline of what I was going to do. While everyone has been extremely helpful/supportive/encouraging, you can’t really teach someone how to teach. Not really.

I knew I wanted to have a lecture type setup because that worked best for me when I was a student. I know the material, and more or less what aspects of it I want my students to learn about. I have plenty of notes. But then it came time to actually teach.

The idea was terrifying. Minutes before class I sat in my office wondering what I had gotten myself into. How can I be responsible for the academic career of so many other people?

Also, what was I going to do up there for three hours? I had notes, I had what is in my head, I had the books, but what was I going to do up there for three hours?

In my first class on Monday night I have my youngest students, so they don’t really know any better. I described the course, went over what will be taught, and expected. I showed them which books we will be reading, went over a little intro, and sent them home. Not so bad.

The entire one and half hours they seemed absolutely mesmerized (or terrified, take your pick).

Second class didn’t go too badly either. Different course, harder material, and more reading. For the most part they were just as enthusiastic as the first group and had all sorts of questions. One girl got up and left fifteen minutes into the lecture, before I even finished going over the syllabus. Extremely encouraging. I spent the rest of the evening writing terms on the board, introducing them to the connections between the texts we will read, along with the theme of the course.

Yes, all my classes are themed. Not only does it make it easier for me to organize my texts, but this method lends itself well to intertextual studies. So I teach the way I enjoyed being taught.

By Thursday I found a method of lecturing that wasn’t just successful, but felt natural. It wasn’t intentional, hence my teaching style happened accidentally. But instead of teaching, I had a (quite lengthy) one sided conversation. My lecture became the equivalent of a very long verbalized blog post.

I don’t know if I will keep this format, but for now it seems to be working for me. The students seemed genuinely interested, taking copious notes, and I felt casual. So far, so good.

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