Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Lead TA Training, Day Three

An entire day spent on the videotape consultation, the established procedure by which we non-evaluatively guide teachers toward a problem in their teaching they wish to work on. The morning d r a g g e d . . . o n . . . f o r e v e r. I was far from the only person in the room who had been through one of these, so I didn't really need to watch one for an entire hour, especially not after two hours of reading the procedures in the manual and having lengthy and highly redundant discussions about them.

The afternoon was much better. I was one of a group of four who would take turns teaching and consulting. The teaching was quite exciting. The Anthropology lead brought a 30-million-year-old partial jawbone and some sample skullls to guide us through comparative morphology in determining what a species ate. The Art History lead had us trying to draw concrete objects and abstract concepts. Our Chemical Engineering lead had a prior engagement, so we also had an impromptu lesson on positive and negative perceptions of persuasion from a communications teacher with over 20 years of experience. I offered the first steps in deciding how to design an experiment. So the four hours of videotape consulting was well broken up by interesting content.

For two of the consultations I was stuck back in the observer mode of the morning. The first one - before I got to do anything myself - started dragging as well. There's a limit to how interested you can feel when you're deliberately inhibiting all the comments you want to interject so the two role-players have their own time. I literally leapt to my feet at the chance to teach. The feedback I got wasn't particularly memorable - we talked about ways I could work on planning alternative questions in advance (when prepared questions failed to elicit the proper response) and be more willing to pause the class for a minute or two rather than trying to talk and think about follow-up questions at the same time.

My turn at consultation apparently went well. The facilitator for my groups was none less than the GTP Director herself (i.e., my boss), and my feedback form contained points starting "excellent" or "good" (and one "friendly"), with no suggestions for improvement. This despite the fact that I was consulting someone who is close to my complete opposite as a teacher: someone who wanted to figure out how she could deal with her nervousness and worry about how her students were feeling during the class. I cannot quite conceive of having any difficulty telling someone to stop sending text messages during class. That's cold-dominant for you.

I had left the morning thinking I probably wasn't going to offer to do videotape consultations at all - the lead network exists as a "network", so other leads could help with any psych students trying for certification. I left the afternoon session thinking that I'd want to encourae all the students to do one, regardless of whether they wanted certification. Tomorrow we start developing our lead plans, and the process of trying to fit two semesters' worth of teaching activities into just 90 hours begins.

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