The Post-Mortem Report (or, how it went)
Wow, I was one nervous grrrl today, a wreck until about 1:00PM. I don’t think I got more than a couple hours of tossing-and-turning sleep and couldn’t eat anything until supper tonight. It’s wild how anxious I was about this whole teaching gig. I mean, I’ve been teaching on my own for the past year — but with this class I think I put a lot more pressure on myself in my performance. For one, it’s on a subject that is really important to me, so I really wanted to succeed. Two, I was lecturing in an unfamiliar setting, in a classroom where the whole time I have sat in the back of the room, watching the professor lead. So it was a bit odd to all of a suddent have control of the class, especially while the professor sat in the back, recording and evaluating my performance!
But I did well. I think. Granted, I’m so much harder on myself than others. I won’t subject you to a painful play-by-play analysis of what happened, but I’ll hit the highlights. I went over an introductory article on Rhetorical Criticism by Sonja Foss. The article was set up in such a way that it was easy dissecting it with the class. I knew the material inside and out, though I’m afraid I may have hidden behind some of this organization. I wish that I could have interjected more anecdotes and questions into my presentation. While I know that the students now thoroughly know the material, I wish I could have made it a little more engaging for them as we discussed it.
Another thing I really want to work on is my chalkboard presence. I’m a recent convert to using the board when teaching — I used to just type things out ahead of time and make transparencies. I was going to do the same for this lesson, until I was encouraged to change my mind. Dr. MacLennan raised some good points regarding the use of transparencies vs. the chalkboard — she said that it’s usually more effective to literally lay it out for them on the board, together, rather than preparing these overheads ahead of time and making them transcribe like mad. I’m more sensitive to it now, I noticed in my 110 class when the prof put an overhead on, the students basically stopped listening and just scribbled notes. At least while I’m writing on the board, the students are following my trains of thought along with me.
There’s other issues I know I could work on in improving my teaching style. Overall, I’m fairly pleased with how things turned out. There were a couple of really great shiny moments in my lesson! Towards the end, after we had worked through Foss’s definitions of rhetoric and rhetorical criticism, I was able to share with the class different epiphany-type moments in my own life, where rhetoric made a huge difference.
I first told them about how I responded to watching the Opening Ceremonies of the Winter Olympics last year. I had just started my first rhet. class, and I remember watching bits and pieces of the ceremonies one night while I was babysitting. I was amazed (and angry!) at all the pathos appeals being pushed at me. From bringing out the tattered remains of the World Trade Center flag to having the different athletes carrying two flags (their country’s and the US flag), all sorts of emotional appeals were being thrown my way. If I hadn’t been aware of these type of communication techniques, I would have let myself be swept away with emotions, without seeing how manipulated I was being.
The other example I gave them had to do with the feelings I had about this year’s State of the Union message. It was neat to be able to explain to them something that I felt passionate about, while reiterating points I had raised during the article’s discussion.
I had fun, and I think I could get used to teaching rhetoric in an University context!
Other things that happened today: I met with my research prof and team — we’re starting up our project within the week! It’s entitled The Religious Poetry Project, and it entails a team of students (I’m a supervisor, woo) who go through paraphrased Psalms that were published from 1477-1640 and transcribe them into an electronic, XML-searchable database. Right now it’s only in its “pilot” stages, which means we’re doing the grunt work until they can get the big grant money next year. But, it’s extra money, plus it’ll be a gem on the CV I’m constructing.
Speaking of money, still no sign of my loan check. I remember joking in December that I wouldn’t have it until my birthday. Well, my birthday is on Saturday, and I won’t have it. Two months late. Unbelievable. Luckily, next year I won’t have to rely on Sallie Mae for my livelihood. But the story gets better — the registrar girl I was working with in the University office quit her position last week. Now the people that are left there have NO CLUE what is going on. Sigh. And so it goes.
And since we’re on the subject of depressing, did anyone watch CSI tonight? What a downer. Poor Warrick. Still a damn fine show, though.