Everyone said it would be crazy. Everyone said it would be hectic. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe them. They were, after all, speaking from experience as AmeriCorps alumnae and previous teachers. Yet the problems you expect to have are never the ones for which you planned, and my first day of class was no different. Terrified of running out of material in the first hour of class, I planned numerous games and activities for my students. However, when my 15 minute introduction activity was over in less than two minutes, I could feel my pulse rate rising. Adrenaline kicked in shortly after that, and my first week of class is still kind of a blur. I do remember running around, frantically writing on the board, and mediating between teams of students (because even the most reserved students can become very competitive when a bubble gum prize is at stake).
I felt exhausted and drained after my first week of classes, and I was all but twitching as I left the library. I was relieved that I had delivered a lesson from which the students seemed to learn and enjoy. However, I was left wondering how I was going to keep this classroom energy going all semester. As I prepared for my second week of classes, equipped with books, lesson plan, and detailed curriculum, I was still nervous about creating and maintaining an engaging learning environment for my students. As my students filed into the classroom, I could feel my heart beat a little harder. Then I did something. I did something very simple.
I sat down.
As I sat, I greeted my students. We chatted about each other’s weekend, gabbed about our days, and discussed what we were going to do in today’s class. These colloquial introductions relieved much of my anxiety, and I found that I was calmer and much more comfortable leading my lecture that day. My class that day was much more of a conversation than a lecture infused with many activities. I don’t think my student got any more or less out of this different teaching style. They still participated in the activities and paid attention to the lecture. However, I do feel that I was able to better observe my students’ progress, because I was not so frantically worried about having to entertain them every second. Now, I enjoy my classes and can better meet the needs of my students.
It took me three classes to find a teaching style that worked for me, so don’t worry if you still feel a little uneasy in the classroom. Try out a couple of different teaching methods and you’re sure to find your mojo!
- Erin Andrews, Americorps Instructor