21 March 2007

[teacher, tell me what's my lesson]

Poor neglected blog. *dusts off*

In the months since last I posted, I conceded defeat. I spent weeks upon weeks trying to talk myself out of wanting to pursue a PhD and try my hand at the academic job market. I know as much as anyone who's not done it about the statistics, about how few jobs there are and how most of those few are adjunct and VAP posts. My brain failed to convince my heart that it was wrong, so I've been starting to position myself to apply for doctoral programs in a couple of years.

My big accomplishment in that direction is earning a teaching position at my uni for next year. My department does not typically have its grad students teach, but those who are particularly motivated and qualified can do so in their second year (of the two-year program). I'm one of the two (of twenty) in my class who will do so.

Thus, in the fall, I'll have my own class of 50-ish students in the second half of the civ survey. I alternate between excitement and trepidation, but I know I made the right decision in taking this opportunity...

as I did when accepting Doug's offer, in which he allowed me to give the lecture for his classes (of the same civ survey) on Monday. I was a spectacular flop, but I learned a great deal as a result. It would not surprise me in the least to discover than I learned more myself than I taught to all 100 students combined.

My biggest challenge is precisely what I expected it to be: projecting authority. Interestingly, that's one that's almost entirely within my control. I can do little about students who take women less seriously (nor can I about smart classrooms designed with the assumption those teaching will be six feet tall), but I can work on my confidence and belief that I can be a great teacher, who students perceive as having a good command of the subject at hand (thank the higher powers for summer vacation, so I can acquire said command).

Any other advice or suggestions (on that or other topics) for a first-time teacher are wholly welcome.

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wwwmama said...

You'll do great. The confidence/authority thing comes over time, so just give yourself said time to adapt to the new challenge. People will tell you to dress up, and you should (at least at first) but it's crucial to be comfortable too so you can feel confident. As far as authority issues go, here's what I've learned over the years: the scariest moments when you first start teaching (oh my god they just asked me something I don't know) end up being the best moments when you've been doing it for a while (Cool! they just thought of something I hadn't thought of!) Just remember you can always say "what a great question! I'll have to look into that more and get back to you." (Make sure you actually do.)

The History Enthusiast said...

Good luck with it! I agree with wwwmama, just be confident in yourself and know that you are qualified for this and the rest will come naturally with time.