Monday, January 31, 2005

Cup 56: Get There First

empty classroom
Originally uploaded by matt_leclair.
When: January 31, 2005, 7:30 am
Present: me
Coffee: Maine Roaster's Capone
Mood: irritated

It was a minor victory. I decided to stick with the waking up early thing. After the previous week I'd gotten into the habit of waking up even earlier than usual, so I decided to see if I could stick with it. So I got extra early to see if I could make it to class before my students. Technically I'm under no obligation to be there before 8 am. The room is locked until I get there, however, and if I show up at 7:50 there will be a hall full of students awkwardly avoiding eye contact with each other when I get there. I don't get it. As soon as I let them in they'll hop on the computers and the first thing they'll do is check their email. They spend all their energy on people who are absent and ignore the people who are right next to them, even if they are just waiting in a darkened hallway and have nothing else to do besides stare at the wall. They seem to prefer the wall to real human contact. Go figure. But I digress. The point is, I have to get there before they do. If they find out I've been coming in at 7:30, I'm going ot have to start coming in at 7. I don't know if other teachers do this, but I find teaching goes better if you own the room. If you aren't there first, you don't have a chance. Have the music going, set the lighting, assert your authority over the environment within the room. Make the room yours and you'll have to spend a lot less energy getting your students to listen to you.

The only problem with getting there that early is that the coffee runs out too early. Fortunately this was just a workshop day, with limited lecturing. That's what takes the most energy, the lecturing. One on one I could do all day. Upper level classes are much easier to teach for that reason. The students are more self-directed and can be counted on to come to the information on their own. Lower-levels most students are still too traumatized by high-school and are just going through the motions, waiting to be told what to do, whereon they will try to do just that with as little personal investment as possible. I don't remember if I was any different at that age. I like to pretend I was, but I just don't know.

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