Thursday, January 11, 2007

Professor-Student, continued

Today I registered for the second term of the language class I started last semester, and I just acquired my new textbooks for the course.

The main challenge is of course TIME. The class meets 5 days/week, I am busy enough as it is, and I travel a lot, but I very much enjoyed taking the class last semester, so I want to keep going with it as long as I can. It was bizarre at first having homework every night and having to study for periodic quizzes and tests, but I got into the routine after a while. I liked feeling that I was making progress with the language.

One great thing about having class 5 days/week, in addition to how much you learn, is that you really get to know the other students and the instructor. I wrote last semester about how this was strange at first because I am at least twice the age of the students and older than the instructor, but we all got used to it and I really liked my fellow students and the instructor.

There were a few times when I was really stuck for what to say. For example, as I walked out of the classroom after an exam that I thought was kind of easy, the student walking beside me asked "Am I really stupid or was that exam impossible?". I made some sort of ambiguous sympathetic statement about a particularly difficult part of the exam, so as not to make her feel bad but at the same time not be too insincere.

After the first quiz and the midterm, the students started worrying that I was 'wrecking the curve', and we talked about it in class. The instructor told the other students not to worry about that because I was technically registered for a different section of the course, and I said "Don't you want your professors to get good grades?". They laughed and the issue sort of went away, except for occasional semi-joking pleas for me to fail a quiz.. or the final exam.

The instructor was amazing. She worked very hard to design a variety of different learning activities, and she was teaching 2 other classes. She also invited the class out for coffee and we had dinner at her house and a movie night. Even when I teach small classes, I seldom have the time (or social skills) to do things like that with my students. And I'd have to clean my house.


Anonymous said...

Once I was the graduate assistant for a museum based summer course that taught science to 4th-grade teachers. Many of the museum staff were people with science bachelor's and education master's or vice versa, so they knew all this education mumbo-jumbo. I thought it was all really stupid when we were planning the course, but then it worked! All those activities that seemed really lame when we talked about them were really effective when the class did them. It made me want to take an education class. But not really. It made me want there to be an education class for science grad students so we could learn some teaching basics and produce a class with a veriety of interesting lessons and activities and not just boring power point lectures.

Good luck with the second semester of your language class, FSP. Hopefully some of the same students you came to really like will be in your section again this term. And hopefully you'll have the same great instructor!

Ms.PhD said...

Boo for wrecking the curve. Grades are stupid enough as it is. Your grades won't affect anything further in your life, while they will affect these students' chances of getting into medical school, for example. On the other hand, have any of them asked you to study with them? Are you really getting the top grades in the class by a large margin? That does seem somehow unfair, even while it might drive the students to try a little harder.