Teaching as an adjunct can be a lot of fun. It is also challenging. As I have encountered a number of situations, I realize such a blog can be helpful, both to me and to others.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Trusting Others

Earlier this week I was at a Toastmasters meeting. Being that I teach Public Speaking, it is not surprising I am involved with a public speaking organization. We rotate roles over the course of a year so each person gets to serve in each of the positions.

At this past meeting, I was Table Topics Master. Table Topics is designed to help people with their impromptu speaking as that individual randomly picks some people to respond to different questions. Since each meeting has a theme, we try to have the questions revolve around either the theme, current events, or both.

I was only able to get to four people but one individual who was not picked came up to me afterwards and told me he thought the reason I could only get to four was due to the length each person spoke. He told me that he felt this was a testament to my questions. They were questions people could digest, sink their teeth into, and give a strong, and semi-lengthy answer. (They only get up to two minutes for Table Topics).

I appreciated the comment and thought about the similarities between this and teaching. My goal when a semester starts is to have every individual leave the class as a better speaker than when it started. Students have other goals, usually getting a good grade is one of them. While I understand being grade conscious, as a teacher, that is not where I am coming from.

To achieve my goal of making them better speakers, I am often asking them to trust me enough to leave themselves in my hands. Sometimes I may ask them to do things they do not understand. Sometimes I may ask them to do things they do not want to do. Still, all these things are designed to help make them a better speaker.

Just like after the Toastmaster meeting when I got the compliment, the payoff with my students is when they tell me at the end of the semester they feel much more comfortable speaking. I have even had students agree to make presentations for organizations they are involved with after taking my class.

Sometimes it is important just to trust the methods of others.