Some assembly required

Now that I’m full-time at Starfleet Academy, I go to the student assemblies.  Sometimes they’re student performances or school business of some sort (debates, etc.); sometimes there are outside speakers or performers.  I am surprised by how refreshing they can be–a chance to pause and experience something different in the middle of a busy day.

I think the big lesson of this year might be that I can slow down more.  I think that my years of college teaching have engendered in me a horror of wasting time, or anything that feels like it might be wasting time, in the classroom.  On the quarter system, especially, so much needs to be accomplished in each class meeting; but even with semesters, you only have the students for fifteen or sixteen weeks, and it’s the rare course that doesn’t feel somewhat squished–or edited to fit (e.g. The Victorian Novel in fifteen weeks). 

In high school, though, every one of the students will be taking English every semester for four years before they even get to college.  And the students I have right now will (barring unforeseen circumstances) be mine until June.  We have a lot to do together, but we also have time to, for example, get to know one another.  I could ask what they thought of the assembly, even if the assembly ran over and we only have thirty-two minutes of class time left.

One of my stated goals for this year is to make opportunities to watch other people teach (more about this soon, I hope).  I realize that I haven’t actually watched high-school teachers teach since I was in high school myself.  (And that was long ago and in another country, and besides, the wench is dead.)


2 responses to this post.

  1. Yes and yes!

    Some of my colleagues regularly bewail how little time we have with the students, seeing them only four times a week, which just goes to show how much one’s context affects one’s perceptions, because I feel like I have all the time in the world with them.

    I share with you the goal of visiting colleagues in action. I can’t shake the thought that I’m not really teaching like a high school teacher (a thought no doubt intensified when a colleague told me the same thing), and I’d love to know how a “normal” teacher works in the classroom. This doesn’t mean I’ll change my style, of course, but I will undoubtedly learn some tricks of the trade and be all the better for it.


  2. […] sense of what high school teaching is like, since I share What Now?’s concern, expressed in a recent comment, that I’m “not really teaching like a high-school teacher.”  (A teacher who […]


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