Day 68: Happy Mother’s Day!

Exercise: 30 min
Blogilates challenge, day 23

Work: 45 min
Piano, photos for family album

Social: 240 min
Had lunch with my mum, shopped to give her a few presents and flowers for Mother’s Day, then we went home to celebrate the day with a high tea. It was beautiful – pigs in blankets, finger sandwiches, cupcakes, an assortment of petits fours, a variety of local teas, cheeses with herbs, honeydew melon cubes. We dressed for it and had some classical music playing in the background. It was a great way to celebrate.

Total: 315 min

Day 66

~ exercise: 60 min
Pilates beginner challenge day 22. Night run with my dad: the slopes were painful, had to walk part of the time. Still nice.
~work: 120 min
Relearning sonatas and rondos I used to play fluently.
~social: 60 min
Coffee with mum. Beautiful day.

Total: 240 min

Day 65

~ exercise: 25 min
Pilates beginner challenge day 20. Glad I exercised.
~work: 45 min
Played a lot of piano.
~social: 330 min
Hours with my mum – lunch, shopping for a wedding outfit, walking around. It was a wonderful day.

Total: 400 min

Student Evaluations

My student evaluations are in. Not very surprising but I am reminded once more of how much it matters to be likeable. I received above average scores on most measures (intellectually stimulating, organized, interested in teaching) but by scores were surprisingly low when it came to “helpfulness” and “created a learning atmosphere”. My overall score was lower than what I am accustomed to as it is usually significantly above average.

Part of the problem is that this was a new course for me, one that combined content and foreign language skill development. I came across as having very high expectations and being very critical. Looking back, I think I could have been more understanding of some students’ struggles with language, spent a bit of time reviewing grammar and presenting more vocab, and maybe been a little less severe in some of my feedback.

I think the bigger problem though, was that many students did not like me. I don’t mean “me”, on a personal level, but my teaching persona. I came across as intelligent and passionate, definitely competent despite my age, but also unapproachable and intimidating. I forgot that students are people and when you deal with people, being competent matters less than having charm. I have been so focused on perfecting my teaching and creating detailed lessons that I forgot Spring 2012.

I had an amazing rapport with my 2012 class. I had decided that semester to be an amazing teacher and to radiate positivity. I had recently watched a video of myself teaching and realized I looked unhappy when I had a neutral expression. After that, I made an effort to smile a lot more than usual, appear energetic and always remain calm but enthusiastic no matter what happened during the lesson. It worked. I had a near perfect score that term and several comments about how I always came to class happy and was extremely likeable. There was not a single negative comment and I know objectively that I am a better teacher than I was that Spring. In my efforts to be professional, to come across as good enough to be a professor, to look competent, I forgot to be a person, smile, and show my students that I am happy to be there and want badly to help them.

I’m not suggesting that teaching should be all about being popular or charming. I think the trick is to be incredibly competent while still retaining that kind, open and positive demeanor that students respond to and feel comfortable with.

When I teach summer, I will:
1) Implement a goal-setting plan and weekly progress form for students to evaluate their own performance
2) revise how I grade participation
3) offer my own French conversation/culture table during the summer since it is not offered typically
4) Keep a positive attitude and look outwardly calm and happy, no matter how I am really feeling
5) continue making great lessons and having high (but attainable) standards

What we record and why we share

Hello readers. I am home, on the island of Mauritius. The journey home was long and arduous but I made it. I have already been spoiled by my mum and am relishing the tropical weather, cool breeze drifting in through the windows and the freshness that bed linens only seem to have in hot countries.

I have thought carefully about what I want to do this summer, and in particular, during the first part of my holiday, the six weeks at home. I have three main projects:
1) recording everything I do here and taking photos of the food I eat, places I see, people I am with.
2) work a documentary about Mauritius
3) create a new family album

I reflected on why I wanted to undertake these projects and what it meant in terms of sharing. For the first question – why? – it is simple. I want to record everything because memory is fallible. I know I had a wonderful time here last summer but I can’t remember most of it – the details are lost, whole days are blurred and that’s sad. I want to be able to go back to my journal and photos and even if they don’t trigger memories, I will have more of a sense of what happened. And proof that it really did happen. It’s so easy to forget and then wonder what was real and what you have embellished. For my second project, I was inspired by a class I took and want to present my perspective on Mauritius. My final project stems from a desire to have more family pictures and albums – all I have are the old ones and I think we have lost many years by not photographing special moments.

The privacy/sharing issue took more thought. What goes on my blog? What goes on Facebook? Should anything be online? I decided that the first project is very personal so the journal will be handwritten and the photos kept to myself. I may occasionally post an excerpt from my journal here and add some of the photos to Facebook but most will be mine only. The documentary of Mauritius will be made public on a separate blog and I hope to use it to apply for a grant and enter it into a contest. I might most some of the raw material but for the most part, only the final edited product will be shown on a professional blog. Finally, the album is also personal so I will only share it with my family and closest friends, perhaps posting a few I of the best shots to Facebook.

I know that I want to limit my time online and particularly on Facebook while I’m here. My main purpose here is to be with my family, work on my projects, play the piano and enjoy time off. Therefore, I have told myself that I will not post my holiday photos until this is over. Editing, uploading, curating – they all take time away from the holiday itself. I have also realized that it can come across as attention seeking and show-off-y to post every single picture as soon as it’s taken. It’s also not very intriguing since people always know what you’re doing and where you are.

I will continue this blog with my usual short documentary posts. For the next 6 weeks, “work” = photography projects, piano, writing.