Friday, September 22, 2006

Hello. I believe I may be writing on borrowed internet connection...

Last evening I taught a class. I prepared well. Three pages of notes condensed down to an outline. I even came up with some great ideas that I had to scrawl one-handedly while driving and decipher later. I felt confidant and I was even wearing my grown up clothes! Yet the moment I stood up there, looking from page of notes to sea of faces, I realized, Oh my God--I am the person speaking here. It's me who must convey something interesting and hopefully entertaining for the next hour and a half. Sweat began to bead up beneath my polyester top (it's quite lovely, just not that expensive) and I experienced a moment of astral travel as my spirit seemed to levitate outside of my body, looking down on the scribbles that those humans call words.

Teaching is really hard. For some people it comes naturally. What comes naturally to me is being a know it all on the page in 7-10 steps usually in the form of a writing article with such titles as "How to Keep Your Action On-Stage" or some such. I have taught before in a number of different settings. Never in a university or college, of course.

What's hard about it is that it all makes sense in my head but once I begin to speak it I realize that each single step I want to talk about, must actually be broken into six more smaller steps. I have a sort of mathematical-existential crisis in which I wonder how many parts is enough. Worse, my voice quavers when I'm nervous and sometimes my words get choked in my throat and I involuntarily swallow. It's very silly. It was a very kind group of people, all eager.

I found my groove in places and there were even a few laughs at moments, and I think they did actually learn something (as did I), but I realize that teaching is something you must practice and get better at, sort of like writing.

If only I knew more jokes.



At 4:05 AM, Blogger Ellen said...

Yeah, jokes are good. Every laugh puts them that much more on your side.

But Jordan, I'm sure you were impressive as hell. They probably even know how lucky they were to be in your class.


At 4:45 AM, Blogger Jim said...

I had my first real stand-up teaching experience this summer...teaching writing, that is. I've taught teckie-engineering stuff before. It's hard, finding the right words on your feet, not having a chance to ponder for the perfect word or rephrase after a bit of contemplation. It all has to come out of your mouth right in it's first, unedited form. Not at all like writing.

So, yes, it takes practice. Preparation. And maybe a little prayer.

At 9:34 PM, Blogger Patry Francis said...

Just think what good practice it is for giving readings. I always think that those who've taught have a natural edge.

AND I'm sure you're marvelous.


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