Archives for posts with tag: Teacher

“I’m not like a regular teacher. I’m a cool teacher”–Me.

Life is mostly a lifelong exercise in turning the things that work against you into positives (sorry to wax philosophical). In my case, I know one of the things could work against me is my apparent youth.

I am 29 years old, and I teach at a university. I am definitely not the youngest professor here, but I’m young enough to have been asked in my interview how I would handle students who saw my youth as a way to undermine me in the classroom or as an instructor.

I wish I had known then what I know now, because I would have told my potential employers that if you wield it right, youth is a powerful tool that can connect me to my students.

In some ways, I feel like I have to tread lightly. I must be ultra fair and ultra consistent. When saying no, I fall back on my college’s policy a lot.

In others, my youth makes me extremely approachable, and I play this up in the classroom. As a result, students tell me about the latest trends; those trends then make their way into classroom materials, where students are usually amused/pleasantly surprised to have a teacher who is kind of sort of “in the know.”

This brings us to social media, that new hot ish that everyone is talking about. In my university, I am on the social media committee, so our team runs the university facebook and twitter pages, as well as the university snap chat.

After months of harassment, I have also given in and given my students my personal snapchat, and in exchange they have given me theirs.

It’s a given that social media is a great tool to boost communication, and a simple google search of social media in the classroom will give you pages and pages of results with both lesson plans and scholarly research.

The article Study of Social Networking Usage in Higher Education Environment states that social media was found to be useful in quickly disseminating information. It also found that participants were likely to use social media for entertainment, task assignment, exams and class rescheduling (Falahah and Dewi Rosmala, 2012).

I’ve added my students to my Snapchat account, and they’ve also had me create a Chubble.

Since then, the environment in both of my classes has noticeably improved. It is more warm in the classes–more personal. There are more jokes. In some ways, this has resulted in a more rowdy classroom. But in others, I’ve actually noticed an uptake in marks (correlation does not necessarily mean causation, but I think it’s worth noting).

In a language classroom, as a foreign language teacher, I am a novelty. And to be fair, they’re also kind of a novelty to me too. Our connections are forged through curiosity–a desire to see and show. My students want to see how I live, and they want to show me how they live. This is particularly powerful with some of the shier students–the ones who are quiet in class, or who seem disinterested. The tiny communications that we have outside of class show me more of their interests and allow us to have moments of connection. Although I never put anything they tell me into class material directly, knowing their interests, their senses of humor and the places they frequent all help me to create class materials that are just a bit more personal and that much more engaging. The students don’t want a whole lot of attention–they just like knowing that their teacher is available. That I care.

As a sidebar, since I have been using Snapchat, both the students and I have found that it is a much more easy and direct way to stay in contact. So far, my students have not abused this–they only use it to ask things that are (in their mind) urgent.

And I use it for things that are (in my mind) urgent as well. The other day, I made a mistake in their notes. Once I discovered the mistake, I wrote it on the board, snapped it with a little joke and sent the snap to every student on my list (all of them minus one or two). I was happy and excited to see them opening and screenshotting the note I sent.  If I had sent it via blackboard or Engrade, it would have fallen into the “teacher I didn’t get” abyss. With snapchat, the problem was noted and solved immediately.

In conclusion, I wrote this reflection to say that I have enjoyed using social medial with my students purely to be social. Students feel more invested in me and I feel more invested in them. This has had only positive results; (I am not an idiot) I am careful with what I post and we all enjoy the extra communication and connection.

Source:

http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1877042812053025

 

Well,

so it goes. I guess in my line of work, things are hard to predict.

Today I taught two classes, one writing and one grammar. These are a part of my practicum, so they are not my classes, but my mentor lets me plan them and execute them and pretty much only jumps in if I’m drowning.

Well.

Tonight was my first night teaching again after a two-week hiatus due to both a family emergency and break between sessions, and I was mostly excited but also a bit nervous.

I was excited because I was teaching conjunctions and I felt like I planned this lesson to a T. I studied it and I had this nifty train car metaphor and I had conjunction junction and this lesson was gonna be IT, how I bounced back after a somewhat shaky first session (in my eyes).

I was nervous because I was also teaching a writing class and I had spent so much time and energy on the conjunction junction that I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do for the writing class.

Well.

As the saying goes, you can never be too rich or too thin. Or predict which classes are going to go well and which will have you looking/feeling/sounding lost.

In the writing class, I introduced the Objective Report by examining (deconstructing, I’d like to think ^^) an article on the New York Sugary Drink ban.

And that did have some issues, but they weren’t due to my teaching (mostly). They were just normal issues of, like, vocabulary and some students still finding their sea legs after moving up a level.

As opposed to my beautiful, well-studied conjunction junction which got stopped in its tracks. At one point, I literally said “OK I can see this is not working. Ignore what I just said and let’s just do this.” And then I proceeded to have them do some exercises out of their blue Azar book.

It seems that in my preparation for the lesson, I got too meta. I was too far above the material–I lost that balance of how to present it in their terms.

And I understood it so well that I didn’t know how not to understand it, so I was having a hard time even understanding their questions.

Which prompted my mentor to remark that she understood, and that it comes with working more with the class and getting a feel for them,

and that “you can’t understand the material TO them.”

 

This week I wanted to look into something that has been pecking at my brain for a little while now, regarding the teaching of composition, and that is in looking for a balance. We learn so many theories regarding writing and its purpose, and in First Year Composition (FYC) students to understand writing and its purpose. Combined with my Descriptive Grammararian/Non-Privileged Dialect/TESOL linguistic background, I sometimes find myself in a rabbit hole and I finally find myself thinking “…but where do I draw the line?” as in, where do I draw the line between living and letting linguistically live and teaching how to produce cohesive, impressive, readable text? I chose this article in an attempt to understand…

Marcus, M. (1964). Dilemmas of the college composition teacher: As humanist and technician. The Journal of Higher Education35(9), 481-487. Retrieved from http://www.jstor.org/stable/1978842?&Search=yes&searchText=composition,&searchText=teaching&searchText=humanist&list=hide&searchUri=/action/doBasicSearch?Query=teaching+composition%2C+humanist&gw=jtx&acc=on&prq=humanist%2C+composition&Search=Search&hp=25&wc=on&prevSearch=&item=13&ttl=5141&returnArticleService=showFullText

I was a bit apprehensive about this article because of its publication date—it was published in 1964, and in my program it has been kind of drilled that we want to be cognizant of publication dates in research, and that we want to be choosing more recently published articles (>15 years). In this case, however, I thought that the article’s timeframe could be a strength because it was published in the timeframe when the dialogue between Current Traditional Rhetoric, Classical Rhetoric and Expressivism was unfolding.

About three pages into a lofty description of the composition teacher as someone who probably does not want to be a composition teacher and is most likely ill-prepared to teach composition, I think I stumbled upon the answer that I was seeking, which is that the composition teacher struggles to convey to students that “he is criticizing the logic, detail, clarity and consistency of their presentations, and not their intrinsic ideas…and to point out the difference between fact and opinion, and between rant and grounded opinion” (Marcus, 1964).

Marcus’s main argument, however, lies in the difficulty of conveying the point above in the current language environment and in relation to students’ fixed (and sometimes contradictory) values/beliefs. Although here “current” is 1960s, the supporting points made in the article remain relevant. Marcus points out the difficulty of learning how to write with honesty and clarity when inflated, untruthful language is so rampant. He uses advertising as a supporting point, with the example that his baby’s “meat jars” are labeled “‘our most precious product'” (Marcus, 1964).

Regarding students’ sometimes contradictory values and beliefs (for example that everyone is moral, but expediency is valued over morality), Marcus points out that it may be sometimes difficult to find a framework within which to criticize students’ detail, reasoning, clarity and themes (Marcus 1964). Critiquing from outside this framework may alienate the teacher from the students; criticizing from within may reinforce these views.

Although I think that this article was written with a somewhat condescending tone toward students, I nonetheless found it to be interesting and valuable. Marcus points out that it is our duty to analyze the misuse of language and the underlying desire for power without presenting our analysis as the final truth. He effectively details the complex negotiating process involved in teaching composition. This article provided me with the answer I was looking for, so I would definitely recommend it.