Thursday, March 08, 2007

THINGS I HAVE LEARNED FROM TEACHING


In no particular order:

If you are in an audience, always sit in the front. The speaker likes that and appreciates it.

As a corollary, don't sit in the very far back. It makes a statement. When students do this to me, I have to chase them down in a way as I talk. I feel as though I'm trying to pin them like butterflies.

Again, in the audience, smile if you can. The speaker LOVES that. It's encouraging.

You can always be surprised. You may grow to have certain expectations from a student and that student may blow you out of the water the next time you look.

Students have incredibly adverse circumstances to deal with. Many have lost relatives and friends to car accidents. It's shocking to me. Of course I knew that there were traffic fatalities, but I didn't realize how many.

There's a smile somewhere inside the most hardened slacker.

Students are conservative in their way. They want you to enforce the rules. They expect it. If you get a group of chitchatters, you must deal with them. If you get a rowdy or disrespectful student (I have not had many), you must do something. Don't ignore the situation. I once had an energetic young man who would leap to his feet frequently to call out comments. He was genuinely excited and so I couldn't complain on that score. But he was incredibly annoying to everyone else and the atmosphere in class started to get nasty. It was during my first semester of teaching, seven years ago.

I tried telling him to raise his hand. That didn't work. I tried approaching the ringleader of the ones who hated him and that worked for about a day. Eventually, I had to give a speech about tolerance and I forget how long that lasted. I prayed for the end of the semester and it finally came.




Computers in the classroom suck. Seriously. If you allow them, guaranteed the students are IMing with their friends, playing solitaire, or even video games. The telltale sign is when they don't look at you. I don't allow them. Sue me.



Lots of young people are overweight.

All young people are attached to cell phones at the umbilical site.

It is surprising what they don't know. I have seen college students who didn't know, or didn't exactly know, what D Day was, what happened at Hiroshima, who the lieutenant governor was, and a million other things. I once asked students if they thought there was any stigma any more about having a so-called "illegitimate" child, and everyone sat silently for the longest time. I knew some of them actually had children out of wedlock and so I persevered, only to find out that no one in the class knew what "stigma" meant.

They do warm your heart, though. I promise you that.

Off to work on the old lady book.






A bientot

love,
becky

4 Comments:

At 9:28 AM , Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

This is a wise, compassionate, astute and accurate account of students. As I've told you before, I taught a nanny certificate class for four years. This is all so very familiar.

Hope you can make some progress on your writing quandrys soon.

 
At 12:31 AM , Anonymous Kay Bratt said...

Hello Becky,

I'm not sure how, but I stumbled upon your blog and have been lurking. You sound like someone that I would be so interested to meet, lots of experience and good stories.

Now for the strange request. In one of your posts, you mentioned that you are always thinking of titles. I really need a new title for a memoir I am shopping around. Any ideas after reading my query that will be sent to agents? My email address is laybratt70@hotmail.com and if you find a great new title, I'll thank you in acknowledgements! I know, not a wonderful prize but it's something... Here is the query:

Dear Ms. XXX,


From 2003 until 2007, my husband’s work took us to China. There, daily leaving the extravagant surroundings of our company-provided home, I ventured as a volunteer into the grim environment of a Chinese orphanage.

What I saw there dismayed and saddened me. I vowed to do what I could to change things and not let the depressing conditions push me away.

With a newly formed team of other foreign volunteers, we began to do something not normally done by Chinese nannies. We held, spoke to, and caressed infants! Before long, we were being rewarded with smiles and joyful laughs from the formerly vacant-eyed children. At the same time, I began to understand some of the customs of the country that at first had seemed cruel to me. I felt I had been brought to China for a purpose and with this new discovery, my inner strength soared and I learned to adjust to the often chaotic life. This is but one facet of my story; there are many more.

I have told it in Silent Tears: A Journey of Hope in a Chinese Orphanage. It is a 95,000-word memoir based on journal entries kept during those four years.

The book brings to light things that are largely unknown to the Western world. I believe it will give adoptive parents--and since the early nineties, American families have adopted more than 55,000 Chinese children—important insights as to why their children may suffer post-institutional behaviors, and suggest some things that can be done to relieve and mitigate these.

This story has already been the subject for my services as a speaker, which in turn has resulted in editorials reported in the Chinese television media and in newspapers.

I will be happy to send you all or part of my 95,000-word manuscript at your request. I’ve included a SASE for your reply.

Thank you for your time and consideration.

 
At 12:33 AM , Anonymous Kay Bratt said...

Oops, my email is kaybratt70@hotmail.com -- I know without reading the book it would be hard to think up a title but I thought it would be fun to see if you were interested in trying! If not, that's okay too. I still think you are a pretty cool lady.

 
At 7:52 AM , Blogger Becky said...

Thank you, Kay. I will let it rumble around in my brain and see if I can't send you one or two.
Thanks for your kind remarks.
b

 

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