How to seem like you know what you’re talking about

hi again – Meredith here.

Yup, I’ve been ‘teaching’ again this week — I say ‘teaching’, because sometimes I feel like a total imposter. I laughed just a little on the inside this morning when one of the kids said something about ‘asking the teacher’ for something, and I realized that they were talking about me.

Yep, that’s right: thought it may not be a long term gig, I am a course instructor for the SEEDS program in journalism. This week I am teaching 27 kids in grades 7 and 8. I was worried that teaching such a big group was going to prove a challenge, and I have to admit, I wasn’t wrong.

I am amazed, as a teacher, how much harder it is to work with this many kids as opposed to my usual group of 15 to 17. It’s far more difficult to learn names and figure out who needs what from you, as an instructor. Group conversations take longer because there are more people who have things to add. They’re also a lot harder to control because once one corner of the room starts chattering, the whole bunch can easily erupt into conversation. I always leave my teaching sessions feeling a little more frazzled after doing my best to keeping everything together and everyone focused.

I definitely have a new respect for teachers – not merely school teachers who have the difficult task of reigning in this many young learners on a daily basis – but for all teachers, professors, instructors who are regularly faced with the task of imparting knowledge.

I’m constantly reminded, for example, of how things that seem commonplace and obvious to me may not be obvious to a group of learners. I continually have to check in with myself, always asking “wait a sec – maybe they won’t know that word or that concept?”

When I’m uncertain, I’ve started checking in with the group to make sure they’re all with me. It happened this morning, when I took them on a tour of the CKWS television and radio station downtown: at one point the tour guide and I were talking about the new cameras they use in the news studio, and how they no longer require the presence of a floor director. The kids nodded. All of a sudden, I realized they probably had no idea what a floor director was. “Does anyone know what a floor director does?” I asked. Not a single hand went up. I faced a sea of blank faces. The tour guide and I laughed and filled in the blanks.

The same thing happened when we were looking at the cameras and teleprompters. I assumed the students could see that when the anchors were reading from the teleprompters, they were looking directly into the camera. But nope. “Whoa,” one kid said as she figured it out for the first time. “You mean the camera is BEHIND the this screen?”

It was a good reminder. If you’re teaching, you have to make sure that everyone is on the same page — and sometimes that means taking things right back to basics to make sure even the seemingly simplest concepts make sense.

I’ve got one more day with these students tomorrow, and then a new batch start next week. I’m going to spend the rest of today reading/writing and, later, going to yoga.

Enjoy your afternoons/evenings/weekends (I can’t believe it’s almost the weekend all over again! wheeee!)

Posted in SGS Blog 2010-2011, Uncategorized

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