Posted by: Magistra | September 24, 2006

Speaking to Myself

The part I’m not sure I can get used to are the faces. I’m a pretty comfortable speaker, but I absolutely look at my audience, especially when I’m trying to explain something. When I look at 30-odd faces, and there are no nods, no smiles, no furrowed brows, no nothing, I die. I absolutely die. I have no idea if I should keep going on that topic because there’s no understanding, or if I’ve bored them all to tears already because they got it five minutes ago.

For example, last week I graded the chapter outlines the Geography students turned in. One class clearly still had some major questions about what exactly an outline is. I asked, and a couple students had never been asked to outline something before. (I know that outlining has all but been replaced by mindmaps when it comes to writing, but really? Nine years of school and no one’s asked you to summarize the main points in someone else’s writing?) Anyway, we all pulled out the book and I outlined the first section on the board.

And this is where I made the mistake. I looked at them. And saw 19 blank expressions. I don’t know, maybe I’ll develop a thicker skin and just start doing what I think is helpful regardless of what I see, but I (gasp) asked them if they wanted me to keep going or stop because one was enough. And got no response. Eventually someone said keep going (more because he wanted to copy down my outline than because he really wanted help, but hey, it was a response). So I did another section. And I’m glad I did because it was much clearer than the first and I really planned on doing two at the beginning.

Lesson: Ignore the students, stick with your plans. (Am I serious?)

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Responses

  1. Yeah, this always bothers me, too. I think there’s a point at which people lose interest, but they’ll eventually come back. Yesterday I think I saw my kids interested, then uninterested, then interested again before staring, completely zoned out at their desks; then they looked interested again.

    Just like you said: Stick with your plans — get out what you want to teach, then go put out fires where needed. If the entire class didn’t pick it up, that’s when you’ve got problems.


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