Thursday, June 21, 2007

Teaching: Week Two

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…


  1. I really enjoyed your teaching experience update. It's easy to imagine you charming your students with tales of bodacious fry sauce.

    It sounds like you are seriously doing a great job as a teacher. You have a real personality distiction that sets you apart from ordinary and makes you very loveable...(even if that's not necessarily the word you would like me to use here. I'm the mudder, though, remember.) I'm certain your students are having a good time.

    One of these days that screen might just snap and go spinning across the whole room. That should get someone's attention...haha!

  2. Dude, that story was totally righteous! It makes me happy to hear that things are going so well. If Powerpoint is working for you, like the old man used to say, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."

    P.S. Do you want me to send you some fry sauce so you can really gross them out!

  3. I seriously want to just bask in the fry sauce colored glow of your posts. I so enjoy reading them! You've got to be the most bodacious teacher ever! And I always kinda wanted to turn those letters like Vanna White- it looked fun (not to mention easier than getting a screen to retract).

    I don't think I mentioned before that I kind of like Power Point, if done right, which it sounds like you are doing. Being a visual learner, it really helps me to focus and know what's important. And using different colors is seriously genius. Way to get your point across.

    I can't imagine people not knowing what bodacious means. That is weird. I remember dad telling me about a news show or something that he worked on in school called "Query." Of course to my ten year old brain, the word QUEERy was, well, just queer.

  4. Ha ha queer. (Just kidding. Sort of.)
    I didn't expect such culture shock, but I guess that's what college is about. Though when pressed I don't know that I could define bodacious, even though I know what it is.
    As for fry sauce, did you tell your students how people LOOOOVE it?

  5. dude, lmao. i loved your thing. i think mine (not really going yet) is under
    anyway... i know how you feel and have been having similiar experiences yet and i'm still in utah. for example there were a group of people who did not know who the justice league is?? i know i can't even fathom that either. maybe not know about them but at least sort of have a clue???? some beach. i don't and didn't even know what to say. to top it off they'd never even heard of "green lantern, aquaman, wonder twins" i mean, what the hell.

    okay granted it was a dumbass moment, however, i spent a couple of years argueing with las vegas mcdonalds about fry sauce years and years ago and they find it utterly discusting too.

    on your third mention.. i was told at aetna i couldn't say yeah because it was west coast slang. also that "you guys" is very regional and away from this area they would say "where, guys?" also sluff is a utah word. they don't know what you're talking about if you don't use it in a sentence. they say skip or hookie (yuck).

    getting an accent yet by the way?