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.

Friday, March 7, 2008


Trying to get class discussions going can prove interesting. Every semester I seem to have one class that is better at this than the other. Yesterday evening, I had a very frustrating time getting a discussion off the ground.

The class is made up of 16 students. One did not show, so I had 15 students there. The three hour class started with nine students delivering speeches and each speaker having an oral evaluation from another student in the class. We then took a break. Three of the students cut out at this point (two of them told me). I hate when this happens and they will not get full credit for being in class but I do treat them like adults and they have the right to leave or not show up (they just need to understand there are consequences with such decisions.). With the three students leaving I had 12 students there.

Even 12 students should be enough to get a good discussion off the ground. Four of the students, however, are exchange students from Japan. They are nice students and try. They speak English a lot better than I speak Japanese (I don’t speak the language). The problem is, unfortunately they do not belong in a public speaking class where the speeches are delivered in English and the instruction and lecturers are all in English. I know they don't grasp a lot of what I say and they stumble through the speeches.

As a result, 12 students now dwindles down to eight students who are truly able to participate in the discussion. With eight students, you really don’t know what you are going to get. After sitting through nine speeches and having that take up over an hour and a half of time, the students were worn down (as was the instructor, quite honestly) and the discussion just never really got off the ground.

It is frustrating.