This past week I had my final classes of my first term of teaching, so now (while the laundry's going on a Saturday morning) seems like the perfect time to review it.
As you may recall, I started the first class with a serious case of the butterflies. In fact, I think butterflies might be too kind a word for what my stomach felt like that day before I walked into the classroom - wasps might be more like it. Either way, I had over-prepared for the class, which turned out to be a blessing - it went by in a flash and about halfway through I stopped being nervous. I walked out of that first class thinking, "I'm really going to enjoy this..."
Not that there weren't bumps along the way, of course. I was giving the students homework from a textbook I love (one that's no longer in print), and it turned out it was too difficult for them. So, midway through the term I started creating my own homework assignments based on that textbook - as well as the 10+ others I have on my shelves - and that turned out to work out just fine.
I also was too ambitious each week about what we'd be able to get through. Doing only a half of a chapter each week is so slow, I wanted the students to get more of the language. So I'd bring in handouts about things that weren't in the chapter, just to give them some additional vocabulary. That was fine, but I think it also gave short shrift to the material in the book. These non-credit classes are for people who have day jobs, and who are lucky if they find an extra hour a week outside class to study, so next time I think I'll spend more time on the book and less on the "extras," so as to give them a firmer base in the fundamentals.
The population at level one of any language in this kind of non-credit class is going to dwindle during the term, and both of my classes suffered heavy losses by about midway through. I didn't take that personally, as it happens to every teacher. And honestly, I was so pleased in one of my classes when a certain student who claimed to be struggling so much (and occasionally claimed to be unhappy with my teaching) kept showing up. That student stayed until the end of the term, and I considered that a not-so-minor victory.
So, I now have two weeks off before the start of the spring term. I have only one class in the spring (level one), so I don't have to do as much prep as I did before this last term. I'll have to do some tweaking of the program, as I mentioned, but I won't be starting from scratch, so that's nice. (And then in the summer I'll have two classes - a level one and a level two - so I hope I'll see some of my students again.) It's nice to have a lighter teaching load this term, as I settle into my new job, so I can really devote the necessary time to each.
Before I started teaching in January, I thought that I would end up liking it. I had no idea, however, how much I would like it. There's a part of teaching that reminds me of being "on stage," so it's somewhat akin to my rock n'roll days... I'll be the first to admit that there are times I really like the feeling of being on stage. Sometimes I don't mind being in the background - but other times I like being the center of attention. And you know, my students were a hell of a lot more attentive than some of the band's audiences! Yes, I think I'll keep enjoying this teaching gig for a good long while yet.