29 January 2013

Um, Er, Can I Get Back to You?

Otherwise known as frequent scenes from my class this quarter.

There's nothing like lecturing about a subject matter that I'm not super familiar with to students who are very smart to make me feel like a complete idiot - on a regular basis.

This quarter I'm teaching about Media Effects & Consequences*. It's a section of media/communication studies that is rooted in psychology and sociology and stats and testing and quantitative mumbo jumbo. I'm more of a critical, cultural theory kinda gal, so sometimes I get a little lost in the details. Like, for example, independent and dependent variables. I swear that when I planned the lecture, I completely understood the two and how they applied to a certain concept we covered tonight. But then, there I was, scratching my head trying to explain it to the students. Not pretty.

There are a lot of um, er, can I get back to you moments. And I'm sort of okay with that. Since this particular class is a graduate-level class, I'm very happy to discuss things with the class and try to figure them out. If that doesn't happen, I'm happy to come home, work through it in my head and try again.

Despite my lack of knowledge on this particular subject, I'm having a great time teaching this quarter. The class is dynamic and interesting. Students aren't afraid to ask questions and state opinions. I want to be an approachable professor and I want students to understand that I don't know everything. But, I can't help wonder if this half in/half out lifestyle is hampering my teaching in a way. I have a variety of responsibilities to deal with every day - from grant writing, to meetings, to cooking, to playing with kids. Pile class prep on those activities and it's no wonder I'm a little off in my presentations. It probably didn't help that I was gone for a longggg weekend and didn't have time to work on lectures last week.

There's no real point to this post, other than to acknowledge that I have a lot of room for growth in my teaching. I'm just happy that I have the chance to stretch my academic muscles every once in awhile.

*For the record, when Benny asked about what I was teaching, I gave him the example of how sometimes we watch TV and sometimes it helps us learn, sometimes it makes us happy, sometimes it scares us - you know examples I thought he could relate to. His response? "Mom, doesn't everybody already know that?" He summarized my own questions about the field I study in one simple sentence. 

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