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Greek teaching update

Greek is now in the third week. I am alone with the class for two days this week. The professor and I had a meeting last week to discuss what concerns we still share about my development needs in teaching. We are exploring administrative issues that need to be handled early in the course in order for me to teach successfully as well as things that enable me to communicate Greek between myself and sighted students. I am documenting a number of these administrative things this week since I am now working early with a new and much bigger class (24 instead of 10).

The professor is team-teaching a D.Min. course this week, and that means he's gone part of the time and I was to have the opportunity to teach a day or two. I told him that there was one day I didn't want to teach: Wednesday. Wednesday is the day the students do "board work," aka practice exercises on the board. I could have done this with the summer class--it was small and I could keep up with what everyone was doing. This class is over twice the size, and board work just gets cacophanous. I got a migraine afterward last week when they were doing board work.

His teaching partner was not available on all of their teaching days. So I get to teach when he is needed in the D.Min. class. That means that I got stuck with boardwork. I wanted to think of a way to make it a more meaningful experience for everyone involved--and more likely that I would survive it intact. Besides just getting through the boardwork aspect of the thing, I also needed to use the experience to address questions about the way things work when I am teaching since so many of the students are new to me. I needed to talk about basic issues like identifying themselves, getting my attention, identifying Greek letters, the fact that I am using an older edition of the book, etc. Teaching boardwork is not so easy with a huge class that I don't know and have not established rapport with. But we gave it a go.

We began with some housekeeping matters. I asked someone to start around an attendance sheet. I took it up at the end and left it in the professor's office. I addressed the issues of needing students to identify themselves and speak up for me on their own initiative if they had questions. They had questions and did speak up. We also talked about the differences in my book edition and theirs. I have the old edition in braille. I explained that the two editions use different paragraph numbers and the new edition references the old paragraph numbers in parentheses. I have a copy of the new one (scanned)--and I did not choose to explain scanning at this point. I don't always remember to compare the two editions when putting my lessons together. This seemed to be a good enough explanation for them.

I sent four groups to the board at first: two to work on one exercise and two on another, so that they could compare notes. This seemed useful--they caught some differences in each other's work, and we were able to discuss these. When they were done, I gave an opportunity to change groups and found that some groups were working in their seats. This was fine with me--the point is to get them to work together, and I don't really care whether it is on the board or at their seats. In time, a couple more groups went back to the board and people continued doing seat work and asking questions.

We did some review in general and went over the verb endings for present active indicative again. We also did a bit of work on pronunciation and strategies for chart memorization. I suggested that if they wanted some extra practice, they try plugging various verbs and nouns into the ending charts. I let them go a bit early, but most stayed around and continued working.

All in all, it was a fairly reasonable first day with a group that was new to me. I didn't end off feeling like I blew my rapport with them or that I can't teach, etc. I ended the morning sitting in public, drinking a cup of tea, open to the idea of contact with human beings, which is a lot more than I can say about my first teaching experience this summer.

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Sarah Blake LaRose
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