Yesterday was my best day of teaching yet. I was worried when I got through the material that was supposed to last about an hour in something like 45 minutes. But, much to my surprise, we almost ran out of time during the second half of class. That’s great. I don’t know if it will always work out quite that well. There was a lot if interaction with the students, which I hope made it all the more interesting for them just as it did for me. Perhaps that is the mark of a great teacher, to always be able to make your classes work out that way, with lots of interesting discussion. I feel like a lot of what I have to teach isn’t conducive to that kind of interactive dynamic, but perhaps that’s my own shortcomings. Or, to be more kind to myself, perhaps that is just part of being new to it all.
Anyway, I have yet to successfully get the projector screen to retract after class. But I’ve learned to stop trying too hard, just so I don’t end up running the screen halfway across the room and then leaving it as a giant tarp covering all the desks and chairs. And yes, the fact that I’m using the projector screen means I have continued on with PowerPoint presentations. In response to my previous post, some people expressed their dislike for PowerPoint. I hope I escape the criticisms to which they give voice, because I do try to say and do more than provide subtitles (supertitles? Midtitles, really…) for my lectures. And I think the illustrative benefits of PowerPoint are quite strong, if utilized correctly. For example, I am able to highlight different parts of an argumentative speech in different colors, so as to point out the distinctions students will ultimately need to make on their own. That’s not something it would be very convenient to do on the spot, on the whiteboard. And, quite frankly, even if I did write up a whole paragraph on the whiteboard just to have the students analyze it while I underlined certain sentences with different colored dry erase markers, how boring would that be? Technology is where it’s at! (Although, I personally find Vanna White’s role on Wheel of Fortune a lot more meaningless now that she just touches a screen rather than physically turning letters around. So I guess technology isn’t always good.)
I did have a funny experience with my most recent class. We were discussing language, how it changes over time and eventually becomes obsolete. As an example of language over the years, I used the sentence “This movie is bodacious!” Some student asked what that meant, which kind of surprised me. I mean, I know it’s not something a teenager of today would realistically or seriously say, but I thought people would at least have heard of it somewhere. So I asked my class how many people had never heard the word “bodacious” before. There were quite a few hands that went into the air. I couldn’t get over that. It’s one thing for students not to know some of the TV shows or musical groups I used to enjoy as a kid, but to have an actual word be completely unfamiliar to them was something else. To feel that detached from the younger generation is … well, not so gnarly.
P.S. For those who know what fry sauce is, I also had the pleasure of grossing some students out by explaining what it is. I think they were genuinely disgusted, even before I described its color as “vomit orange.” Also funny to me, I didn’t outright explain that fry sauce is largely intended to be used as a dipping sauce for French fries, and finally a student asked what fry sauce was for. Man, the things you take for granted…