(Due to inevitable reasons, the story "The Wanderer.." will continue next week. In the meantime, here is what I can offer in its place.)
It was the first day in school and everyone was eager to start the year. The students were excitedly updating each other with their latest escapades. There were a few of them lost in their own world, nevertheless, the air was charged with great expectancy and adventure.
I stood there at the entrance taking all of these in. My pulses quickened, and I can feel my heart do a flip. It was my very first exposure to teaching and I was apprehensive and nervous as how it would turn out to be. I reminded myself that I have made all the necessary preparations so I assumed it should proceed like a breeze. But looking at them now, I didn't expect a college class to be as "rowdy" as this one. I had expected to walk into an organized, attentive class, with all of them seated in their designated places.
Someone noticed me and turned to his classmates, "Sshhhh, she's here..." The din inside the classroom slowly diminished - as one by one - they went back to their seats. Then there was complete silence, I could hear a pin drop. I was amazed at how the ambiance changed in just a few minutes. I walked in and assumed the sternest face I could muster.
I introduced myself, gave a brief summary of the course, have their class cards accomplished and distributed their syllabus. During all these processes, I spoke in firm tones and never smiled. My hands however, were shaking behind my back, and my knees were wobbly. If they only knew how nervous I was, they may have come after me like a pack of wolves.
My first lesson was about endocrinology. I have reviewed the material thoroughly so I went on like an automaton trying to impress them with my cognitive abilities. One brave student asked several questions trying to test the waters. I was acutely aware of that, and it made me wary.
I went on to explain about the functions of the endocrine glands, the hormones they produced, the assays applicable to these hormones, and all pertinent information related to the topic.
Well, they listened and I survived my first day in college. Nothing disastrous happened. I was able to give a two-hour lecture without collapsing in the middle of my presentation. But after the class, I was like a deflated balloon, so relieved that I was able to make it through.
As days passed, I gained more experience. I came to realize that teaching is not just being able to deliver the lesson for the day. Teaching should also be an interactive process amidst a friendly atmosphere. It should promote an environment of respect and should provide enough freedom for students to be able to express themselves without fear of censure and sanction. They learn more in this set-up than in a rigid and straight-laced method.
I have also learned that adapting the "carrot method" (positive approach merits are awarded for good performances) encourages more student participation than the "stick method" (negative approach- sanctions are given for low performances)
A few of my students during my first year of exposure to college are now my colleagues in the University, and I take pride in stating that they had turned out to be very competent and effective instructors.