Did you know (well, how could you know?) that I used to beg my father to take me on roller coasters when I was very young? I loved 'em; I couldn't get enough of those nail-biting, scream-enducing amusement park rides! But I digress.No, the terror doesn't come from the standing up in front of a class of 12 and talking about Discovery. Perhaps that would frighten some, but for me that’s a piece of cake. In fact, it’s really fun. In fact, it’s the exhilarating part! It’s a huge rush, talking through my lesson, seeing comprehension on faces (or occasionally lack thereof), eliciting discussion, telling stories from my paralegal career and hearing the occasional chuckle.
The terror comes from my perfectionist nature. What if some student doesn’t do well? What if they appear to be tracking in class, but when it’s time to grade the assignments, it turns out they really aren't? What if they don’t like me? What if I’m not doing it right?
You know. Normal neurosis.
So I proceed through my week like this. I panic about how I’m going to fill up two hours in the next class. I go through the course curriculum and decide what material it makes sense to cover. I review the next class homework assignment to determine what I need to teach in order to prepare my students to succeed on it. And these decisions make me feel a bit better.
And then I talk through my lesson plan a time or two so I can create some memory of it. And then I feel a bit better still.
And then I show up in class, and work through my lesson, and answer questions, and ask questions, and finish the two hours. And it seems like it went well, and I feel great! On top of the world!
And then I start to worry about how they’ll do on the assignment, and about what I should have covered more thoroughly, and about how I’m going to pace out the rest of the sessions in the course, and about how the students will do on the final (you see, I do a lot of worrying about my students).
Until I’m panicked again.
So come to think of it, I guess it’s a bit like a roller coaster after all!
P.S. What in the world am I talking about, you ask? I’m teaching an evening Discovery course in the Paralegal Degree program at Empire College. About which I'm incredibly pleased, excited and proud! Albeit a bit terrified . . .