The Semester in Review

Looking back on my experience with teaching this semester I can definitely see some things I improved on, and some things I still need to work on. Going all the way back to my first practice scout module (which I wasn’t really prepared for) I was a bit surprised by the fact that I was kind of nervous. Partially that was down to the fact that I just hadn’t done much public speaking in a relatively long time, but it did catch me a bit by surprise considering I was just speaking to a small group of people that I already knew.

The practice modules and the observations and the co-teaching definitely helped me prepare for my first solo session, but at the same time nothing really compares to that very first time you teach a class by yourself. I don’t think it’s that surprising that that very first session was by far my worst. I was glued to the podium, a bit tongue tied, went way too fast, forgot some things I was planning on talking about, and ended up finishing about ten minutes too soon. But by the third session or so it didn’t seem like a big deal to teach a solo session. By that time any problems were more about adjusting to new things (teaching a second session for the first time, teaching a hybrid one-shot session for the first time, etc.). I was a bit annoyed that I didn’t feel like my last session was very good. I felt like I was getting better each time, I didn’t have any real nerves beforehand, and it still didn’t go that well. It was mainly just the adjustment to a one-shot session -whenever I’d had an hour and fifteen minute class before that I’d always felt like I didn’t have material, and then during the one-shot session everything felt rushed. The whole thing felt a bit choppy, and I also had a fairly unresponsive class.

Regardless of that, I definitely feel like I improved as the semester went on. The main thing was just feeling more comfortable standing in front of a class. I also felt like I improved on the way I taught some concepts and was pleased that some of the ideas were completely my own. At the end of most classes we’d give the classes time to work on looking for sources on scout, and one thing that I really enjoyed was working with the students individually to help them with their research papers. I definitely got better at that as the semester went on, and it wasn’t so much about becoming more familiar with scout – I already had a pretty good handle on that. It was more about learning how to approach students in different ways. It’s obviously easy when a student specifically asks for help, but I thought I improved at helping the ones that at first didn’t really appear to want help.

There are definitely some things I need to work on. I almost take it too seriously, for one – I kind of forget to enjoy myself at times, if that makes sense, because I’m so focused on getting the material right. I also could definitely improve on ways of getting students involved in discussions. I’ve talked about this in other blog posts, but I sometimes would ask a question, wait a few seconds, and then answer it myself because I assumed the students wouldn’t say anything.

I’m not sure I would say that I really have a firm grasp on what my teaching “style” is at this point – I probably just haven’t given it enough thought. I’m used to lecture, and I’m sure that’s had some impact on my teaching style, but I don’t like just standing up in front of the class for an hour talking non-stop. So I guess I would say I like lecture/discussions (another reason to get better at getting students involved), with some group work/exercises mixed in.

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