Bullet point thoughts on teaching and learning

There are a few instances with teachers throughout the years that I’ve been thinking about lately. Unlike last time, I’m not going to waste time trying to make everything connect. You’re going to get free-form bullet points.

  • My ninth grade English teacher (who at the time seemed old and wise) told us that when she started teaching, she had students who were older than her.
  • In French class, we watched Jean de Florette. Before we could actually watch the movie, though, we had to read all these things about it. At the time, I found it dreadfully boring—I just wanted to watch the movie. Now I know what my French teacher was trying to get at. He wanted us to practice reading before we practiced listening. I don’t know how helpful it was, but I do know that I’ll never forget translating les lapins grands and my horrified reaction at the thought of big rabbits.
  • In AP French, the teacher said that we were only supposed to speak in French, even to each other. Most people didn’t, but the person I sat with was actually a good student, so most of the time we did speak to each other in French. Terrible French, verging on franglais, but French nonetheless. At the time, I didn’t think it was that useful, but looking back at it, it was actually teaching me something really valuable—how to think fast in French. It didn’t do much to perfect my French, but apparently it was useful for other things.
  • Several times in my life, I’ve been part of a ballet class where multiple levels were put in one room. Even now, when I go back home, the class I take is with people seven or more years younger than me. I’ve never had a problem with this arrangement. My teacher teaches to the middle of the ability levels, and everyone is challenged. Plenty of times I’ve been the younger student, frustrated but learning a lot. Now, I’m the older one, and I can say—without a question—that advanced students taking a beginner class make it really, really hard for themselves. Everything is stripped down so that all you’re focusing on is getting your muscles to do simple movements very, very precisely.Of course, a ballet class isn’t a good comparison to a language class, but what I’m saying here is that it can be done, if I figure out how to do it.
  • Another time in French class, we had a video conference with this grad school in France. I didn’t say anything, because I was terrified. My one friend, though, was really willing to put himself out there and talk about French politics in French. I really admire that. And I guess it’s my job to get people to respond in a similar manner. Good luck, self.
  • At the museum, I learned to keep my hands out of my pockets. Even if I’m wearing a really nice lab coat, it still doesn’t look good.

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