Tuesday, September 2, 2008


All my time spent watching the Olympics in August has paid off. I now have a metaphor to convey what teaching has been like. It's a lot like the diving competition.

Each round or class has its own degree of difficulty. And, I walk to the platform, wearing my designated suit (that thankfully does not start with an "S" and end with an "O"), and attempt to complete the dive in spite of the degree of difficulty.

In round 1, the degree of difficulty was enhanced by numerous factors. For one, the 21 pages from the text had to be spread over almost two hours or fillers had to be found for the remaining time. Additionally, it was the first class, which came with all sorts of unknowns, including whether my voice would last. So, I'd rate this a 9.8 on a 10-point scale. I survived; I did not, however, add much stylistic finesse to the text. So I'm quite sure that the judges would have deducted numerous points for the latter.

In round 2, the degree of difficulty dropped tremendously (possibly as low as a 4 or a 5) because there were 21 pages of text for a fifty-minute class. Problems arose during the execution as nerves from the wait preceding the class and a malfunctioning memory caused me to trip up during the lecture. Not a pretty score.

In round 3, the degree of difficulty started to increase (possibly to a 6 or a 7) because although there were over 70 pages of text for the students to read, not much was left to discuss due to all the margin notes printed in their version of the text, which pointed out the positive and negative things about each of the writings. Thankfully, I found some points to make and filled the remaining class time by going over a persuasive exercise that they wrote during the first class. And though it probably could have been a bit more stylistic, the form felt good and hopefully came off without much splash.

The third time must be a charm because this week I felt more at ease than I have the past two weeks. I realized after last week that I didn't pray very much, and the results reflected that lack of dependence and flawed assumption that I could do the "easy" class on my own. Bad idea.

That's when I began to recognize that each class will hold its own set of challenges (a/k/a degree of difficulty), whether they be timing issues, communication issues, health issues, or any number of things that I can't control. So if I continue to teach in my own power, the results are going to continue to reflect the poor execution exhibited in round 2. I don't want that for me or my students. So I chose to go back to what worked in round 1--a total recognition that I am very incapable of doing this on my own and very dependent on God to help me.

Round 4 promises to look a bit like round 1 with 11 pages of text for a fifty-minute class, and Round 5 will return to the hour and fifty minute class length and will have a shortened prep time. I'm hoping that looking ahead a little at a time will allow me to see these differing degrees of difficulty and will keep me on the dependent path.


Sarah said...

Great metaphor Alyssa! Way to keep the spirit of the Olympics alive :)

Renae said...

Keep pressing on, my friend! I'm so glad you remembered the prayer factor. ;-)

Momma Bean said...

Love the metaphor. It is bound to get easier with time-this teaching thing. It feels so odd to me and my setting is not nearly as formal as yours.

Krista said...

I fare better on the "dependent path" too, my friend. Just wish I could stay on it. Really liked this post.

Alyssa said...

S & MB - Maybe the metaphor will help both of you as you teach this fall. It's wonderful that we're all teaching for the first time during the same semester.

R - Me, too!

K - Until I become more in tune with this, I wish I could wear a sensor that would beep when I started to approach the independent path. That would be so very helpful!