Today was a day I’m not very proud of

I had class at 2pm instead of 10 today, because I asked to cancel the Hope High class after no one showed up on Thursday. So I had plenty of time to prepare for today’s lesson: Frog Dissection. I got up on time, and got to the computer, but instead of preparing for the lesson I spent the morning fiddling with my ‘productivity system’ (Hah!) and preparing photos for uploading from our honeymoon.

I don’t get really started on a worksheet until 1300, and I only get through the first part by the time I have to race to class to show up 2 minutes late.

Class itself was OK, I felt, and I’ve now a much better idea how much we can do in how much time. I was called into the office afterwards, something that never fails to fill me with dread no matter how many times it happens. My boss explained that I needed to be there for the whole class, that I needed to make sure my materials were copied/prepared, provide better instructions to the volunteers, and grilled me on how the rest of the class was going to go.

It reminded me of how fucking angry I was at my BIO 102 professor for never photocopying the notes he handed out to us before class – which means class always started 30 minutes late. Whenever I find myself doing something that really pissed me off when someone else did it, I feel a strong combination of anger and shame. Being embarrassed reminded me of the last time I was embarrased, when I stumbled through an inarticulate description of the nature of complexity in front of some very understanding high school students. My slide show failed to transfer to the laptop, so I just talked off the top of my head. No wonder they didn’t bother to show when I said I’d take them on a field trip.

The morals are clear.

I should have at least one class in the can at all times.
Teaching a class is like writing a column. I should have all materials written/created, inventory requirements drawn up for at least three classes into the future.

I only get until midnight.
All of my materials for the next class must be accounted for before the day of the class begins.
Don’t waste people’s time
Both the kids and the volunteers are giving their time to me. I need to give them explicit instructions occupying the entire time they’re working with me.
Don’t trust machines
Always have one printout of whatever I’m doing.
If I don’t know, I ask
If I am unsure about dates, times, budget, anything, I keep asking people until I get a firm date.
Write It Down
Any time someone says something relevant to the logistical aspects of my class I need to record the date, location, who is telling me this, and the statement.

3 thoughts on “Today was a day I’m not very proud of

  1. Yeah, I struggle with a lot of the same things.

    Things are a bit different for me as I’m not as passionate about what I’m doing right now…
    But I’ve definitely found being conscious of when I’m being distracted and avoiding such to be a big help.

    I think you’ve already moved in this direction from what conclusions you’ve come to, but I’d say teach the class as if you were teaching it to yourself. I know you have pretty high standards.

    Rock them on the next class. I know you can do it.

  2. Another moral:

    Learn your lesson the first time, and if you absolutely have to repeat the lesson, try to learn it the 2nd time. 🙂 That’s what I’ve learned in my 28 years here, anyway.

  3. I hear you Ethan. I’m still having to learn and remind myself about the midnight rule even after 6 years or so of teaching. I got slapped in the face with it this summer when I tried to do some hard combinatorics for talented high school students after preparing my lesson plan exhausted at 3am, and completely train wrecked. Fortunately this was a pedagogical low point for me for over a 5 week program.

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