Wednesday, September 17, 2008

I've Found the Solution the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day.

Call your best friend and talk for almost an hour about a little bit of everything and a lot of nothing.

Laugh a lot.

Get the validation you shouldn't need, but, ah, well.

Get over yourself. I want to be the perfect teacher already. I'm enjoying my "small" African American history class, but the students in my large survey--which is primarily lecture interspersed with brief discussions (usually analyzing various audio and visual clips)--just aren't engaging like I want them to for the most part. Some days they ask the best questions; some days they look like zombies.

Initially, I worried about it on my own, not wanting to get ideas from my colleagues because I am so determined to appear like I have it all down pat. But I talked to a couple of people in my department and found 1) other people are trying to figure out how to best teach and reach students in the large classes 2) I'm not the only young(er) woman to have to pull a white male student aside and say, "The way you are addressing me before class is not appropriate and it will stop now" and 3) I am not the only new professor ever to have to write lectures for classes further on in the semester--honestly, I made it up to the Depression during the summer and I did teach post-45 in the spring so I can cull from and expand upon some of those (I'm good for the social movements of the 50s and 60s and the early Cold War, for example), but I still need a stronger WWI lecture, a good WWII lecture, and I want to write some killer ones on society and culture in the 80s and 90s.

I know this is not news for most folk, but it's hard for me to reach out for help and advice--always conscious of being "one of the only-" and so I don't want to admit weakness. But that shit was killing me and I'm so glad I did. Turns out, there's a slight chance that people aren't expecting me to be perfect!

And the last part of the solution--go to sleep, so the terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day can become a memory.


Dr. Anderson said...

DaJuane Anderson has sent you a link to a blog:

Blog: Dr. DaJuane Lateef's Educational Perspective
Post: The inconspicuous responsiveness of educational alternatives, options, and reform for students of color and the catastrophic affects

QuakerDave said...

WWI? Focusing on what, maybe? Just curious.

Anonymous said...

its amazing what a talk with a good friend can accomplish!

elle said...

Dave, that's the thing. I usually don't talk abut actual battles much (for WWI I do talk about trench warfare and how many lives were lost because of virtual stalemates). I talk more about the homefront and, honestly, I just don't know as much about the WWI homefront as I do about the Civil War, WWII, and the Vietnam War.

I think I don't feel comfortable because it's not my specialty. I'm about to swallow my pride and e-mail Quinn who knows so much more.

Singing in the Rain said...

I understand your dilemma more than I care to share! Consider approaching the large classes in another way. If this is the typical 50 minute undergraduate course, try engaging the learners in more active learning. It sounds like you are doing some of this already. History is not my area, but giving learners problems to research, discuss and present helps them take the lead in their learning and gives you an opportunity to still provide a foundation before the activity whether it is a class or several classes long and you can still fill in gaps and interact with them in a totally different and maybe a more intimate or deeper way.

I love your site!

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