This weekend I completed my first block of teaching for my Masters course and even though it ended with a lecture on a Saturday, surprisingly I didn’t mind this at all! Most of this block was taken up with induction material but even that was engaging and fun!
What I love the most about the style of teaching is that it’s not focussed on talking at us, rather encouraging us to talk to each other and work in teams to discuss a question that has been posed by the lecturer. In the past three days I’ve done more discussion than in the past three years! That does reflect the nature of this course though; instead of learning and understanding the facts of microbiology we have to understand the role that science communication has in society and that can’t be taught by throwing facts and statistics in our faces.
Even the talk that we had about presentation skills was really interesting; the lecturer got us out of our seats, standing in circles and demonstrating the need for gestures and voice projection. I’ve sat through so many PowerPoints about presentation skills and this is the only one that has stuck in my mind and resonated with me!
Another thing that I feel I’ve got out of this course so far is the ability to put up my hand and contribute in front of the whole class. I’m no longer afraid of getting anything wrong; without sounding pushy I want my opinion to count or at least show that I want to actively participate in lectures. This ability to contribute my voice into the mix is helped a lot by having the chance to meet most of the people on my course through the icebreaker/ induction sessions. By the third year of my degree I had managed to get to know all of the people on my course but that was three years of networking as opposed to the single hour that it took me to meet and get to know who I’m spending the next year with.
This again reflects the nature of my course – communication. If I turned into a hermit every time I was faced with a group of strangers then it would be about as useful as taking an abacus to an geography lecture.
The one thing that I could struggle with if I’m not careful is getting behind on my workload. Already I have five separate reading tasks to undertake, an essay to write and an essay title to submit. While I’ve already complete over half of these tasks, I’m aware that if I take my eye off the ball, my list of things to do will get longer and longer, I’ll miss the e-mails that tell me what needs doing or I’ll just miss out a key thing that need completing before a teaching block. To avoid all this potential catastrophe, I’ve utilised my diary like never before; the notes section at the end of this week actually has notes in it and I’m reminded of my ‘homework diary’ from secondary school. If it’s what I need to keep myself organised then I don’t mind reverting back to using a tool from when I was 14- 16 years old. The only difference is that there is no one telling us to “get out your homework diary” at set points in the class, that has to come from me and I need to remember to write down specific tasks when I first come across them.
As for completing the tasks, I think I need to utilise the library a bit more. Today I stayed in my room to work but I’m definitely too distracted by the presence of people. Whenever I hear voices downstairs I just want to abandon the work ship and socialise. I know this is the road to nowhere so I need to tackle it head on and treat my days off as if I had lectures all day. This is a Master’s course after all and it wouldn’t be right if I did nothing for it! Even though I feel that I’ve been dropped in the deep end, it’s great to finally sink my teeth into this course! Since the beginning of this year I’ve been itching to start and it’s nice to know that my enthusiasm hasn’t disappeared after my first teaching block!