Monday, October 27, 2008

Enjoying The Freshmen

This morning it was my turn to guest-lecture in our department's 1000-level course, for incoming students in the variety of majors that make up the department. The course is a "topics" course and also serves to meet the university studies description of an Intellectual Community course.

The faculty member who teaches this course on a regular basis has an oddly arranged load, and he consistently asks for other department members to guest-lecture while he is away at conferences. So, that's ok, I don't mind doing it. I always take some aspect of my specialty in the department and has things out, usually with a powerpoint slide of some kind, discussion questions, group work, etc. The common theme I've seen across semesters with this course is the huge difficulty in getting students to have a conversation, to talk, to engage themselves with the content. Perhaps this is unavoidable and understandable, since I'm only a guest-lecturer and these students are (mostly) not in my major.

However. This semester I didn't have much time to prepare, so I just wrote a few notes and headed off to class. No powerpoint, no group work, no fanciness at all. In the hallway outside the room, I took a deep breath, murmured "I am the pack leader," walked into class, and took over. I introduced myself. I asked the students to do a quick-write on two questions, and then we talked about their answers for the remainder of class.

And boy did they talk! It was amazing. Every single student in the class said something. There was one girl in the back who was addictively texting during the whole class, but I could tell she was listening, so I let it go. There was another kid on the right with his feet up on the table, but I decided to interpret that as his casual nature rather than an attempt to be offensive.

I let them out of class five minutes early (in order to walk back across campus in time for my advising appointments) feeling absolutely positive about the class. Cool! I AM the pack leader!

Speaking of pack leaders, here are my current obsessions:
* The Dog Whisperer
* The Dog Whisperer
* The Dog Whispere
* Twilight
* The Dog Whisperer

That is all. Notice the absence of Harry Potter -- I've managed to stop obsessively rereading the series by reading one of the Dog Whisperer books and then moving on to Twilight.


Amanda said...

Yay! It sounds like you really did well there. I'm rather impressed that you were able to get a class like this to talk :-)

Brigindo said...

How cool is that. It supports my belief that under-preparing is the better way to go but I am sooooo bad at it.

Anonymous said...

It's the energy thing, don't you think? And the fact that as a leader you believe that you have something important to share, to teach. I think you're on to something! You go girl. Klaus and I are cheering you on.