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.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Shut Up And Listen

When I was in Junior High, I remember a teacher asking me and my classmates a series of questions. Upon learning that no one knew the answers, he told us to put our books away as he was giving us a surprise quiz. One of my classmates told him, “If we do not know the information, you should not give us a quiz, you should explain it to us”.

For years, that comment made a lot of sense to me. I have tried to remember it when I teach. If the students’ don’t know something, it may be the way I taught the information and I should try to explain it again. For the most part that philosophy has served me well. This semester, however, I am running into a slight problem.

I have one class that talks and is very loud. I can teach from the back of the room, stand right next to the people who are talking, glare, give dirty looks, ask people to leave, it does not matter, they keep talking. When I try to get some discussions going, I sometimes hear one of the students say something like, “I’m so lost. What does this have to do with public speaking?”

Normally, upon hearing a comment like that, I would look to re-explain the importance and significance of the topic I am discussing. The problem is, I do not know whether they do not understand the information because I am not clear or because they are not listening.

I think back to my Junior High teacher and the situation that occurred and ask myself now, “Did we truly not understand the information or were we just not paying attention”. I can understand and see the value now in giving a pop quiz when you think the class was not listening. Still, I choose to err on the side of caution. I would not want to give a quiz in such a situation since it could be my fault. Still, it would be nice if the students in this one class would occasionally shut up and listen.