My sleep last night was restless. As usual, the day before the first day of classes my brain has a tendency to play scripts of what I want to say in a certain order. It’s an auto-pilot switch that cannot be turned off. The only other time I experienced this was the night before a play or a film I was doing. Usually it was the play because we only had one shot at getting it right on stage. With film, if I forgot a line they could do the scene over. I didn’t like to take advantage of that, but on occasion it happened. With teaching classes, I don’t get a do over and I do want to come across as I know what I am doing.
The way in which I teach is a balancing act. I have somewhat of a script, albeit loose allowing for improvisation if something comes up or students don’t quite understand. I like to teach this way because it reminds me on some level of my acting days. We had activities of all kinds that included improvisation. For example, in pairs we were given a scenario, “man finds $100 on the ground, it’s the other persons.” The teacher would give us this one line and say, “Action!” With a partner we were to improvise the lines, make them up as we went along. The only initial rule, do not negate, as in don’t say no, always accept what’s given to you by your partner.
My students are my partners and they give me a lot of information in which I can work from to make their classroom learning experience beneficial and enjoyable. My activities are dynamic and engaging with a variety of activities with students changing partners often.
The online classes are a bit more of a challenge as we lose the dynamic energy of face-to-face connections. I am still able to make it work as evident of the first day of classes. They were engaged and able to do what was asked of them. As we move on to more classes it will become more challenging and dynamic from an online perspective asking more of their efforts and engagement. And with my improvisation background I do not have to negate their experience and can change plans midstream to meet their demands in what they are asking. Even if they don’t know they are asking. It is just a matter of paying attention.
Teaching fifteen classes a week (100 minutes per class) online will be demanding. I am up to the challenge and look forward to trying out new activities and ways of doing things that I hope will improve and enhance their learning experience.