Thursday, February 9, 2012

Day 3: My first lesson, and the Exchange Trip to Switzerland

Wow, talk about being over-eager, over-prepared and early. Luckily other people were there early too - also people who were teaching today and scared shitless about it. I spoke to the IT guy about how to log on. The password is not "Sparky" after all. Phew.

My cunning plan with the mask worked really well, as did the bribery with sweets. You see, I think that nerves are an expression of the fear of making an idiot out of yourself. So I deliberately made an idiot of myself from the start, and then it was over and done with and I could get on with the lesson. Checking out the venue first helped too, so I was able to see that there were facilities for a slideshow and so on.

Comments and Criticisms from other students:
"Spoke slowly and clearly"
"Confident, very fun"
"Kept [content] clear and simple"
"Very interactive eye contact (and yummy sweets of bribery)"
"Very interesting topic with good props"

"Should have moved around a bit more" - I was trapped behind the lectern
"Couldn't see props clearly - should have laid them out in front of the class"

"Good pictures and presentation"
"Questions and Answers/Quiz section could have been a bit more structured instead of having people just shouting out"

All in all I think it was a success. But having seen a few more lessons taught by better or more experienced teachers, I think I need to work on approaching it as a lesson (eg using worksheets and making them do groupwork) rather than as a presentation which might be overly reliant on slides.

Some of the other lessons were fantastic, in particular one girl who got us all to dance around like idiots and taught us of the value of song and dance in any subject at any level, as a way to gain control of a class, energise them, settle them down if they're rowdy, get them to work in groups, have fun learning, illustrate difficult abstract concepts and so on. She also used the space of the whole classroom, and her use of the board was very natural.


It turns out that the selection process for the trip to Switzerland consists of two phases. First the class nominates people who they feel meet the criteria (namely good students, good teachers, good ambassadors and have a passion for understanding different cultures). Then the top 8 nominees will send letters of motivation, and a panel will select four to send to Switzerland; two from the Junior (foundation and intermediate) phase, and two from the Senior Phase. About a quarter of the class have prior commitments that mean they can't make it even if they are selected, or they don't want to go, but either way it's going to be very competitive. A bunch of us are worried that it's going to turn into a popularity contest, which particularly disfavours anyone who did not do their undergrad at this university. So we've proposed that the people who really want to go give short talks on why they would be a good choice, possibly on one of the free nights in Hogsback next week.

So it's quite likely that I won't get to go. I've been thinking about what topic to choose for my research assignment, and am leaning towards something to do with language as a barrier to education, so data from a school in which lessons are taught in the kids' second language (schools teach in German but the kids speak Swiss German at home) compared to data from a township school could be quite interesting. However, having direct contact with my supervisor, and doing a more intensive kind of research in the township school, could give me better focus or a better paper altogether. So, if I don't get to go, it's not the end of the world.

That doesn't mean I'm not going to fight to the death for a chance to go though.

So, like, guys. If you're reading this. Um. Nominate me pls kthx. :D And I apologise for the lack of pictures in this post. My internet connection is dodgy and can't handle my googling.

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