It’s been an interesting few weeks as I get to grips with being a PAID lecturer, yup – got a contract and everything: finally getting cash for telling people what to do. Oh wait – I used to do that when I was a bouncer.. Meh, the more things change…
The main difference with the kind of teaching I’m doing now compared to the informal stuff I did with the various projects I was involved with is that I’m mostly delivering content created by other people a(one module being the exception) and having to deal with the admin side of things that previously I’d never even realised existed. You’d not believe the amount of paperwork a teacher has to deal with outside of the classroom – and I’m not just talking marking and registers!
I started off by being thrown right in at the deep end on a topic I’ve not looked at since my 1st semester on the FD for an FE class – a level I’ve never studied let alone taught – I don’t know the system, the marking scheme, the VLE navigation… Was quite nerve wracking trying to learn all of that AND refresh my memory on the subject to be taught from the supplied course materials.
Lets just say it was NOT a good first experience; I couldn’t get into the room because I’d been given the wrong key code, then I couldn’t get into the staff room to get help because I’d forgotten to bring the code for that room downstairs with me, then I couldn’t access the computer system in the classroom, then somehow my files had corrupted between the staff room and the classroom…
I basically fell to pieces and used up the extent of my subject knowledge in the first 15 minutes trying to busk it from the top of my head, got them to attempt the group task I’d carefully planned without the benefit of the slides I’d prepared (because I couldn’t follow the slides available on the VLE) then when I did finally manage to access the VLE had to use those slides anyway and probably just confused the poor kids as opposed to educate ’em because the stress of the situation kicked off the CFS induced ‘aphasia’ which meant I was clearly struggling to find every other word to describe what needed to be said.
So… Not a great start. In fact quite possibly the most embarrassing 3hrs of my life so far.
I had no issues with my first HE class though; probably because I know the subject well enough to teach without slides if need be, I know the VLE system intimately and it’s an age group I can (just about) relate to – so well within my comfort zone – the fact that they were a ‘nice’ bunch of kids may have helped – receptive, intelligent and obviously wanting to learn for the most part – they’re looking likely to be my ‘faves’ so far.
The other HE classes have caused me no issues for the same reason – though I did get a little riled at this afternoons lot but hopefully next week they’ll remember what I said and understand that when I speak they listen – I’m not wasting my time repeating myself over their chat! ..But even the FE class this week was good – I managed to pull back and cover 2 weeks worth of work in the first session, go over their new assignment AND do a few 1-2-1’s after some group feedback on the 1st assignment.
Sadly it seems I took on more hours than I can really cope with. I’ll be honest, I only took into account classroom hours when I agreed to my timetable – I naively didn’t realise there was so much more to being a lecturer than just tweaking my slides, showing up to impart knowledge and the odd bit of marking:
I ended up having an ME/CFS incident after my first class today and had to go lie down in the medical room for an hour to stave off the shakes and imminent crash. Brought home that I need to be careful at this early stage so it was either lose 2 HE groups or the one FE unit, thankfully it’s the FE unit I’m to lose so that’s going to free up a lot more time to allow me to pace myself; would be a total pisser if I finally get a job and get off benefits only to end up back in bed and on ESA for good.
The really annoying thing about losing the FE class though is that I nearly killed myself last weekend getting into London for a one-day passport appointment for the CRB check; cost me a sodding fortune as well! I don’t need a CRB for HE teaching so all that money and effort turned out to be unnecessary *sigh* always the way eh?!
So, one more week of pushing myself then I can dial it back a bit and settle into a routine. What’s really tickled me though is that the one thing that seems to have surprised some of the staff is my ability to keep a class under control – I can honestly say that’s never been among my concerns – I’ve chucked guys twice my age and size through a fire door so I have no problem telling a bunch of noisy kids to shut up and pay attention.
It’s weird though – I find myself slipping into my ‘mum’ voice if students displease me – the way I speak to Elf when she’s playing up is the exact tone they get *grin* seems motherhood is good training for teaching; either that or doing door work for 6 years was all preparation; mind you so were the admin and customer service jobs when I hit the staff room.. See, everything happens for a reason: I’ve been unknowingly training for this job my entire life ;0)