Wednesday, February 01, 2006

On the other hand...

Because there's always another side to teaching:

Last week, I was in a panic about all three of my classes, and this week, somehow, they've come together, mostly.

My Chaucer students seem to be picking up the language more quickly than other classes I've taught before. Today, after just over a week, or, say, four hours of total class time, they already started asking content questions (as opposed to translation questions). Several are reading aloud pretty well, and most are able to do a rough word for word translation well, with occasional smart questions about words that seem odd.

So, I'm trying to figure out why they seem so apt with it in class, or at least willing to give it a shot and trying hard. Here are my best guesses:

1) They've been listening to the Chaucer Meta-page audio selections that Dr. Virago so kindly pointed me to a bit, and so the pronunciation is getting reinforced. (Thanks, once again, Dr. V. And for those who haven't had the pleasure, take a listen over there. It's such a treat to hear different voices and accents reading Middle English.) Indeed, I asked my students, and about half seem to be using the Meta-page audio selections, at least a little.

2) They're just smart, luck of the draw. No way to test this so far. If so, I'd love to take full credit, since about 2/3rds of the class have had classes with me before, AND been pretty darned good students. They told me the primary reason they were so good with the language is because they're just that good.

3) Our program has gotten more rigorous since the last time I taught a Chaucer class here, and the result is that the students in this senior level class are more prepared to deal with the language and literature. That's a possibility. When I taught Chaucer elsewhere, it was basically a junior level class.

Heck, I shouldn't really care. I'm just going to bask in the pure pleasure.

My Theory class seems to be reading carefully, and coming to class prepared to ask questions, and is making connections already. Today, Hegel ALMOST made sense! They were able to tease out the Master/Slave narrative, and then connect it to what they'd read about Marx. I love when they ask such good questions that I don't really have to lecture, but can get pretty much everything out through answering questions and guiding a bit of discussion and feedback.

And my first year writing class... Okay, they seem a little shell-shocked by the quizzes, but they did a really good job actively reading the texts for last night and were able to talk about them in terms of essay form we'd read about earlier.

So, maybe I can actually do this teaching thing alright after all!

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