My teaching demonstration

So you know how I wrote last week about my teaching workshop and the 10 minute mini-lesson I’d have to do? I had to do the lesson yesterday, and I ended up doing the lesson I mentioned in my last post, the one on a cycling pace line. And I thought it went pretty well. I was the only one, out of five participants, who finished within the 10 minutes; everybody else got cut off short (the workshop leaders had no mercy and wouldn’t let anybody seize a few extra minutes to finish up). This seems typical of me: I’m generally an extraordinarily good direction-follower (not always a good thing, let me say) and someone who doesn’t tend to take up a whole lot of anybody’s time. We had a short feedback session after each lesson, and one of the participants said that she thought I might have taken less than the allotted ten minutes if people hadn’t asked questions. That’s true; if I’m at all nervous (which I was, a little bit), I’ll rush, and forget half of what I wanted to say. And I was trying so hard to keep from going over 10 minutes — not a long stretch of time at all — that I was in danger of overdoing it.

But the session did go well. I made them act out a pace line, so they got to walk around the room, rotating from front to back up to the front again as they went, and then we talked about the benefits of a pace line (drafting) and the dangers (bumping into other riders) and the need to keep a steady pace and not stay in the lead too long.

The “class” responded very well to my enthusiasm; I started off talking about how some of my happiest moments have been spent on a bike and particularly riding in a pace line, and people talked about that afterwards as a highlight of the lesson. I’m reminded that a little bit of enthusiasm in the classroom will go a long way. And they liked the active nature of the lesson. I’m sure I don’t take enough opportunities in my regular classes to make students move around and do things and be active in some way.

I also learned that spending seven hours in one room with the same people — actually it was more like 6 1/2 since we got out early — is exhausting. I’m a pretty extreme introvert in the technical sense: even though I like being around people a lot, it drains me of energy, and I need a lot of time to recover. By the end of the day I was ready to crawl into a corner and refuse to talk to anybody.

So, two more Fridays in this workshop, and two more mini-lessons. Even though I think I could easily do two more lessons in cycling, I’ll probably try to teach something about writing or about literature. But I have no idea what.

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