By Jessica Lynch, Contract Instructor, School of Linguistics and Language Studies
Part 2: The first weeks
Walking into the classroom on the first day of class was intense. It was the first time teaching my own class, and I was both excited and nervous. I had prepared and practiced my lecture, created a presentation to highlight important parts of the course outline and decided on the first impression I wanted to give to set the appropriate precedent for the semester. The first few minutes, I kept checking my notes and was worried I might fail miserably. I knew what I was doing and soon enough everything started going really well and my students were learning to communicate using sign language!
The next two weeks were a bit of an unexpected challenge. I received an unusually large number of emails flooding my inbox from students, other teachers and administration. But the most challenging part was the change in students from class to class. Some students skip class, others drop and more register later. Students must be evaluated in the first few classes to ensure they are at the right level. If they are not present, they are withdrawn and replaced by a student on the waitlist. I was always under the impression that students would show up to class while waitlisted in hopes of being admitted at a later date, but this doesn’t appear to be the case.
In language courses, the first few weeks are extremely important for other reasons as well. Catching up can be nearly impossible since almost all of the work and learning is done in class. Some students meet with me or other students before class in order to catch up a little, however this is not always possible. Every class before the registration deadline, I had new students who would stare blankly as I reviewed material and I would have to both backtrack and slow down to avoid this and spend a few minutes with the individual students going over key concepts. But the registration deadline brought an end to new students and course content and assignments were able to progress much more smoothly!
Stay tuned for Part 3 of my blog when I will reflect on assignments and grading.