06 September 2012

Students, thunderstorms, and rollercoasters.

This afternoon in my class, the thing that I imagine any novice language teacher dreads happened to me. I had to look up a word. On my phone. During class. I suppose I should be grateful that I had the option, but it is just so irritating when you know that you know it but you just cannot get it together. The word? Rollercoaster. I really dislike rollercoasters, and thus never really use the word frequently in any language. Of course, this unfortunate moment also came about shortly after I had mixed up the definition of a particular grammar point I was teaching, confusing both myself and my students. The thing teaching helps you realize is, you relearn the rules just as much as they learn them! You know how to say it, but you don't always remember why. It certainly doesn't help matters that I teach a language where literally every single grammar point has at least one exception...and of course, that is always what students want to know about. And in moments like those, all you will be able to think of, invariably, is a full-fledged list of REGULAR verbs. C'est la vie, mes amis.

Lately we have had some very grey and stormy weather in Georgia. I suppose it's got something to do with that Isaac business that we've all heard about, though now I'm pretty sure it's just God laughing at those of us who know what a gorgeous Pacific Northwest summer-to-fall transition looks and feels like. Don't get me wrong, I adore knowing that I will probably be able to go sunbathe at the pool at some point in October. However, I don't so much adore feeling like I live in a sauna every time I walk out of my front door, thanks to 80-90 degree temperatures and 70-90% humidity. But enough complaining - so Georgia is hot & sticky, Washington is cool and refreshing, whether in the sun or rain. Who knew? (Oh, wait. EVERYONE.)

Michael's best friend, Kris, visited us for a week earlier this month, and they had a great time! It was a bit unfortunate that it feel on a week where I was also working more than normal, and subsequently more than my normal level of stressed, but they cooked some great food for me and we also enjoyed a delicious dinner out at Michael's and my favorite restaurant here in town, Buckhead Grill. (Dinner=delicious. Running into one of your students bussing tables after two glasses of wine=Not so delicious.) So, they had a great time fishing, camping, and shooting at the range. I'm glad Kris was able to come down, and am happy that they will soon be able to plan hiking and camping trips regularly up in Washington. Michael still has the rest of this week off, so he has had more time to rest and relax. Tomorrow we both have off, so I am very much looking forward to actually not having an agenda for the first time in at least two or three weeks. Then it will be back to touring people in the Sauna Saturday morning...but I digress.

Teaching has been going well. I'm tempted to say, "It's going forward" in order to not betray too much confidence or positive attitude, but I'll just hedge my bets for now and leave it at "Well." There have been some frustrating moments, but as any teacher knows (and especially in language teaching, or perhaps, math, which is also like a totally foreign language) there are bound to be moments that help you forget the others, in a good way. As I've gotten more familiar with the new book I'm using and been reminded of the usual blank stares students give you 60-80% of the time, I have begun adjusting and learning faster and faster when it comes to my teaching style and lesson planning. Their first exam is in a week, so we'll see what we'll see then. I have a group where there are many strong students and several who struggle very much, so we'll see how it evens out. They were put into their first seating chart today, so I'm hoping that by the next exam, that will help distribute people out better during group work, so that they aren't always working with their buddies or the same person. Every class has such unique dynamics, and even those can change from day to day. I have to constantly remind myself to reflect on when I was in college and grad school: though I know I was a good student who generally performed well (especially in language classes), I also know that there were inevitably days where my facial expression would have knocked a clown right out of his shoes, it was so not cheery! (A happy clown, not a horror clown.) That always, always, helps me feel better and, I hope, think more realistically about "how I did". Really, the proof is in the pudding no matter what you refer to. In this case, the "pudding" is made up of many factors, but the most reliable are exams and projects students have time to work on and prepare for.

I'm currently at my office and must get home. Many blessings to you all, and happy fall!

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