Tag Archives: teaching

Late night study tunes: edn. XV (afternoon edition IV)

It’s been a while since my last Late Night Study Tunes post. I’m sure I’ve been listening to something… I just can’t remember what.

(There’s been a lot of Korn, to be honest. Too much.)

This week I am tired. I’m always tired, I know; I post about tiredness a lot, because guess what? I am. All the time. This week it’s particularly brutal: it’s the kind of tiredness you don’t just feel in your head and eyes, but throughout your whole body. My bones hurt. Twice this week, I’ve been so tired that I couldn’t sleep, which has to be the mind and body’s ultimate fuck you.

Case in point: Tuesday. Tuesday I had to lecture. I love giving lectures. My tutorials are 90 minutes long, so a 45 minute lecture is, by comparison, easy. There’s also not a huge opportunity for crowd interaction, so I don’t have to worry about coming up with interesting questions (or, conversely, about what to do when people don’t feel like answering my questions!). I just put together some fun visuals, stand there, and do my thing.

Only problem is that when you have barely slept, it’s incredibly difficult. Monday night was stormy and noisy; I tossed and turned all night and managed maybe 90 minutes of sleep before giving in at 5am and getting out of bed. Who needs rest, right? I barely remember what happened in the lecture. It was a small crowd, owing to the truly terrible weather (Perth, you’re outdoing yourself at the moment), but there could have been 10,000 people there… or none. It was so difficult to focus. I have no idea what I said, and I’m sure I missed so many important points. At the end, my unit coordinator told me it was interesting that I’d linked up a point from this week’s topic with the guest lecture last week… and I had no idea that I’d done so. I couldn’t remember making that point.

Every teacher has bad classes or bad weeks. The classes themselves aren’t inherently bad: it’s got nothing to due with the students, and everything to do with where your head is at. This week, my head hasn’t been there, try as I may. It’s got nothing to do with lack of preparation or lack of care, either. I am so prepared for classes. I love teaching this subject. I want every single class to be fun and enlightening and memorable… for the right reasons. Not because I can’t get the technology to work, and not because I’m so exhausted that my brain is in shutdown mode.

I left the lecture on Tuesday desperate for a glass of wine and a dose of Roy Orbison.

I’m housesitting for my folks this week. Roy Orbison should’ve been easy to get. My dad’s music collection is huge.

I checked the vinyl collection: No Roy O. Hmm.

I checked the CD collection: Not in alphabetical order. Hmmmm. I wasn’t going to spend all day searching through unordered CDs.

I resorted to piracy. This is what my father makes me do. It was mostly guilt-free piracy, as I am positive that Dad’s paid for Roy Orbison music before. But still. Not ideal.

Roy Orbison, and particularly this song, will forever remind me of being a tiny child. I love it. The music and wine didn’t quite have the calming effect I’d hoped for, unfortunately – I barely slept on Tuesday night and was still brain-dead going into class yesterday afternoon – but it did the job on another level. Isn’t his voice just magnificent? (Yes. The answer is yes.)

Now, because I’m a walking contradiction, I’m going to listen to The Herd for the next hour and pretend that my voice is as magnificent as Jane Tyrrell’s. (It’s not. My dog actually got up and walked away from me when I was singing her verses yesterday.)

Hello students!

Just a quick post to say hi to my students this semester, some of whom I’m sure will be visiting following my tutes this week.

Today was my first day back in the physical classroom since the end of 2011, which is almost hard to believe. It doesn’t seem like that long ago. Of course it was a disaster because technology is a major jerk. Apparently I teach in 1997; the computer in my classroom had Internet Explorer but no Chrome, and my lack of administrat0r skillz meant that I couldn’t download Chrome plug-ins for IE, so I couldn’t play the Prezi that I’d spent hours putting together.

Jerk.

It didn’t help that my undying faith in technology meant that I didn’t bring notes on paper. Lesson learned, egg on face, won’t do it again.

Anyway, it was fun. Or at least, I think it will be, once I work out how to hook up my own laptop to Curtin’s system so I can play my Prezis.

prezi

 

I’ve only been playing with this platform for a few weeks but I’m excited to see what it can do. I like the idea of tutes involving more than just me talking at a room full of people, and it seems like Prezi will be great for imbedding video and images. I’m a bit rusty when it comes to the whole face-to-face education thing (I’ve just been teaching online for the past year or so) but I’ve also developed a lot of confidence when it comes to public speaking and teaching, and I’m also a lot more engaged with social media and internet technologies (and their role in society) as a whole, so I think (hope?) it will be a good semester.

I’m also super stoked to be teaching second years. Not that I don’t love my first years every semester, but it’s exciting to go beyond that and to be able to build upon their existing knowledge.

Now though, it’s time for a well-deserved beer and a few episodes of The Simpsons (which I’m currently watching for the first time. No joke) before I either fall asleep in a heap or get on with my thesis edits. Siiigh.

Pants on fire.

As far as occupations go, teaching at university is pretty grand.

At the sessional (casual) stage, it pays fairly well (not enough, taking in to account marking, but that’s another grumbly story for another grumbly day… and besides, it used to be much worse, as we didn’t even get paid for marking until a few years ago!) considering the amount of hands-on teaching that we actually have to do each week. It’s rewarding, especially when you see students struggle for the whole semester to balance work, life, and study, only to come through with the goods in the end — whether “the goods” refers to being able to submit all the assignments, or getting a Distinction, or just pushing through to the end when they were worried they’d have to drop out.

However. Any teacher in the history of the world that says they don’t express the most immense sigh of relief when the last assignment for the semester is marked is a big. fat. liar.

Marking is the necessary evil of teaching. No matter how much time I give to each assignment, or how many comments I leave, I never feel like I’ve done enough and there are invariably unhappy students (although, I must admit, the vast majority of my students are generally happy with my feedback — even when it’s not entirely positive, because I take the time to offer constructive criticism).

Plus… it takes forever and it’s easy to grow impatient.

I’ve got about ten to go before I’m finished for the next three months, and honestly, I can’t wait. Does this make me a bad teacher, or completely normal?

An open letter to (not all of my current or former) university students.

Dear university student body,

Dudes. Come on.

You are amongst the brightest and most hopeful young minds in the world. Did you know that? If you live in Australia, you’re lucky enough to be part of one of the most educated countries in the world. That’s amazing! Education is a privilege, not a right, and you have access to it relatively cheaply and openly. The fact that you are a woman or from a particular ethnic background or socioeconomic sector does not preclude you from getting a diploma or a degree, if you want one.

There are also an abundance of opportunities for those who do not wish to pursue post-secondary education too, and that’s fine.

The fact that you have finished both primary and high school (to some level, be it year 10, 11, or 12) puts you so far above the majority of people in this world. There are people who fight literally every single day of their lives to be able to get the education that you take for granted. Kids who don’t have the luxury of grumbling about waking up and going to school every day for 12 years, because they’re too busy fetching water or working on farms or just trying to stay alive. Kids who don’t have schools nearby. Kids who don’t have the means to access education.

But not you. You just get to go to school, and even if your family doesn’t have money, your government ensures that you still have access to some of the world’s highest quality education, almost for nothing. And when you finish school, you can choose to go to university, and how’s this? You don’t even have to pay until you get your degree and find a job! How awesome is that?

So please, please, tell me why on earth with all this privilege, all these wonderful opportunities right in front of your nose, please tell me why you cheat on your assignments? Why you plagiarise, or just do damn lazy things like copy and paste assignments from other students who have shared their old assignments on their blogs, or why you submit the same assignment as your friend, and hope I won’t notice?

I will notice. I will notice if you have cheated, I will notice if you have made liberal use of copy and paste, and I will especially notice if I read the exact same assignment twice within a matter of days.  I will notice if the only sources you have referenced are the first three sources that come up when you Google “difference between web and net” because they’re the same three damn sources that the vast majority of the other students will reference, too. Mostly, I will notice that you don’t seem to care. I’m so sick of it.

This isn’t a rant to out any one of my students. I have taught some absolutely brilliant people over the past five years, and I’ve taught a hell of a lot more students that might not be getting the top marks in the class, but they’re always trying and always learning, and that’s all I want as a teacher.

That, and for people to stop trying to take me for a ride.

What is the point of going to university if you’re not going to try learn something? Your degree is more than a piece of paper or some letters at the end of your name. It’s the opportunity to learn that the vast majority of the people in this world will simply never have, and to learn about things that you probably never would’ve learned if left to your own devices. Why not really get involved?

Sure, it takes a bit more effort, but the rewards are immense. Really knuckle down and do some research before submitting an assignment. Really think about the question and what it’s asking you to do, and for goodness sake, ask your teachers if there’s something you’re unsure about! We don’t bite! And yes, there are some truly, truly shitty teachers out there – and for that, I am sorry – but the ones who aren’t shitty will appreciate the fact that you felt confident enough to speak up and ask for help.

If you don’t care about learning, don’t go to university. Get a career advantage in other ways – perhaps by working hard at the office. If you are at university, make the most of it and get your money’s worth. Most of all, don’t be so selfish. It’s challenging because it’s meant to be. If it’s not challenging, perhaps you aren’t thinking deeply enough.

Cherish your education. The luxury of learning is one of life’s pleasures, so don’t take the privilege of your education for granted.

Thoughts on teaching from a complete amateur.

Wow – intense. I just finished up my first day of teaching for 2009, and all I have to say is, that was hard. The worst thing about teaching is definitely, by far, the self doubt. I had a real mix of classes today – some keen, some not. Some participated, some didn’t. It was bound to happen, but I really find myself questioning my teaching method and whether or not I did a good enough job today.

I will learn. But it’s so hard. I taught three hours yesterday (all one class), and four hours today – the same lesson to four different one-hour classes. So, by the end of it, I’d definitely developed a lot more confidence and knew what had to be done. I definitely feel bad, now, for every time that I kept quiet in tutes when I was studying as an undergrad. To be honest, I really didn’t go to tutes much until third year/my honours year — I just didn’t care. Then I did a unit that changed everything, and I went to tutes, and I realised that I was learning a hell of a lot more in tutes than I had ever learned in class or from a book, because I was being given the opportunity to express my point of view, debate points, and engage with other students and my tutor. I realise now today just how hard it is being a teacher when no one in the class is willing to contribute. You find yourself asking, “Am I boring?”. “Am I not being clear in explaining what I want from the students?” … there are an endless amount of questions I could ask myself now, and a million ways in which I could doubt my teaching abilities, but when it comes down to it, it’s definitely 100% give and take. The more engaged that students are, the better and more effective the learning experience will be. So, for next week, I need to come up with ways to engage my students, to relate to them.

It will all be okay, I’m sure. It’s a skill I have to learn… this is my future.