– this is a clip of an otter overthinking things -and pretty much what was happening in mind!
This is an accurate representation of what happened in my brain the evening before and morning of my first time teaching in a university.
I received a mass emails sent out by our course leader saying that there was an opportunity for a person with an animal/equine/flora background to go and do a few hours placement on the Animal Studies course. I leaped at eh chance.
So after meeting with the Animals Studies course leader a few times and going for a wonder around the campus and class rooms the day had come to go an actually deliver a lecture.
I was to go and do an hour’s lecture on ‘how to write a good essay introduction’. Academic skills had never been my strong point, having had a couple of referrals with my essays way back in my own uni days, I didn’t feel hugely confident on my own abilities on this one.
But there was no turning back now, I had adapted a PowerPoint presentation from the one I was given and wrote my own example to an exercise I had planned….and was actually quite pleases with it….sort of wanted to write the essay to go with it afterwards.
I began with a little icebreaker, to be honest more for my own benefit than the students as they all knew each other, I was the stranger in the room.
the icebreaker was inspired by one my tutor had done a couple of day previous,
I handed out post-its with random (yet very important) questions such as – ‘what’s your favourite cake?’, which Hogwarts house would you be in?’ and ‘what was your favourite kids TV show growing up?’, – I accidentally dropped a spoiler on this one in reference to Netfilx’s new remake to ‘ Sabrina the teenage witch’ -oops!
And then the most contentious and hard hitting question of all…..’Cat or Dog?’ I hadn’t prepared myself for the very heated debate this brought about and the complete disregard for the season of good will…..though just for the record, Dogs all the way!
So quickly I pushed onto the actual teaching bit….and to my own surprise it went pretty well, I imparted wisdom!
At the end I had included a little exercise, shoehorning in a YouTube clip of one of my favourite beasties, Reindeer – because these animals are all kinds of wonderful!
Though I wasn’t solely pushing my own agenda here, this was their last lecture before breaking for Christmas, so it was an all-round easy choice. It has also inadvertently lead me to my current book choice, ‘Being Caribou’ by Karsten Heuer, that reaffirms just how awesome these animals really are….no, really they are!
Anyway, moving on from Reindeer and their awesome-ness, I somehow came to the conclusion that I would be a good idea to have my mentor observe me on my first lesson just a side not to any would be PGCE students out there – don’t think this is a good idea on your’ first time teaching…… I refer you back to the otter.
Despite this it worked out ok and I passed and had some good feedback and will be taking more sessions in the future.
I am also lined up to take another class in a couple of months for another lecturer, something about dissection theory from what I gather, well I’m game now!
Then things took an unexpected turn, and I’m not just talking about the spontaneous carol concert in the lobby. I was introduced to a third yeas student who is interested in going on to do his PGCE next year, he seemed familiar.
He would acting as a ‘teaching assistant’ with a few future lectures, so we stood chatting, mostly about badgers (another top-notch animal, maybe not quite as good as reindeer, but we’ll let it slide) and I could tell he was thinking the same about me, that he had seen me somewhere before.
Finally, the penny dropped when I mentioned where I used to work
‘Oh! I did work experience there a few years back.’ – That was it, that’s where I knew him from, he was one of my former work experience students.
He then went on to say ‘Yeah I really liked the place, though I remember a goat died on my first day’…..ah.
‘Now I remember’, he added, ‘I remember clearing a pond. You and another woman were in wetsuits chest deep in a stagnant pond and covered in pond weed. A dead frog got stuck in someone’s hair.’
yep, just another day in the Valley, and another story for another time.
This is the problem of having worked in a public place, people recognise you, but they have no idea why…then they remember, and very often it’s a result of some bizarre and unpredictable circumstances. One Christmas while at work, I was manning the door to Father Christmas’ grotto, a member of the public approached me and said…’You’re the Viking that sold me a broken tea-light!’….Yes. Yes I was.
After getting my feedback and a well needed brew, I headed to my Dads house to take him shopping. At that point little did I know that the teaching day was not yet done.
As we headed to the shop, he quizzed me over how and what BACS transfers are. I explained, but he wasn’t quite grasping it. Now here, I thought, was an opportunity to exercise some teaching strategies, so I explained again in a different way, but he still wasn’t grasping it.
Now in his defence, my dad is having a few problems with his memory of late, however he’s usually alright with this sort of thing. It’s usually more like if you hold up a lemon and ask him what it is he can’t remember the correct word for it and ends up described it in other terms such as, ‘small melon’ or ‘sharp yellow thing’ or ‘it’s like a lime but not’…honestly it keeps us entertained for hours!
– just a side note here, we are a family who very much try to find humour in these types of situations….Recently at my Aunty Betty’s funeral we walked out of the crematorium with the song ‘Black Betty’ blasting out, its just who we are.
So again, I tried to simplify things even more….still nothing, to the point I was now getting confused.
This continued for quite a long time, and being a trainee teacher, I thought I could handle it but no teaching approaches or theories or cunning plans that I’ve learned so far could help me with this one!
Now, I like to think of myself as being quite a patient person, but in the end after exhausting every avenue I just went with, ‘It’s witchcraft’.
My Dad found this amusing and likened himself to Baldrick from ‘Blackadder’, and you know what, he’s not wrong!
– above is the link to this particular clip