2.02.2009

What teaching certificate?

I started teaching a film class near the end of January. The school is part of a community college, so technically I am now employed by THE STATE. I had to sign an oath that I would uphold the US constitution and everything.

The class is called Intro to Film, but it's better suited as "Intro to 16mm Film". I was given a pretty light description of the class going in, but it seems as though the class is heading in a more tech-centered direction, focusing on the 16mm format and camera techniques. But basically, it's up to me to decide the direction the class goes in.

Which is kind of terrifying for a new teacher.

I decide what these students learn. The responsibility is a bit daunting. I've never created a lesson plan, or have any clue about class structure. There is no experience telling me what will end up as a chaotic mess, or a well-rounded course.

I am kind of dreading those end-of-term evaluation thingies.


Teaching something yourself really is the best tool for learning, as I've come to realize... I'm re-learning everything in such a different way. All the stuff that I forgot in school has come flooding back, and all of a sudden the confusion over the different widescreen ratios makes sense again, rules of thumb about lenses, aperture and depth of field are fresh in my memory, and I even started remembering the more obscure things, like the subtractive color system for color negative film.
(But forget the math equations. I still cannot tell you how F stops work mathematically with the square root of 2. All I need to know right now is that they work... and it has something to do with the square root of 2.)

Walking into class and suddenly being the person everyone is expecting to speak, felt a lot like getting up to do an oral report on a book you've never read. That sick, unprepared feeling is one I get every night before class. (Though it's a crappy metaphor: I know everything I need to know about 16mm, but I just have no idea how to teach it.)

I think what throws me off the most is that class, to most students, is not a dialogue. Class is you talking, then poking your students with a stick until the questions get tortured out of them. (Or you say something very confusing, and tell them it will be on the test. Then you start getting panicked questions. Either way works.)

I was in school for 17 years (that sounds right... kindergarten through four years of college) and suddenly I am in front of 12 college guys who expect me to know what I'm doing.

You'd think I'd pick up on teaching techniques from all that time spent in school, but really, it's a testament to most of my teachers that I did not notice the teaching, but rather the subject matter. The ones whose teaching tactics were glaringly obvious were the ones I tuned out.

Oh, yeah my class is all boys. Which is perfectly fine and awesome, but I am completely outnumbered, and the "that's what she said" jokes have started.

Which is probably why the most common piece of advice I have gotten from friends is:

"Be a total hardass."

2 comments :

Zombolis said...

Be a hardass..... that's what she said.

LH said...

hahahahaha