Ah, today was a splendid day. Superb!
Today was the first day of teaching the holiday classes. As I mentioned earlier, HINT was offering lessons on computer basic skills 2 times a day for 40 underprivileged youths and I’m the main one responsible for developing the curriculum and teaching the classes…exciting.
I actually woke up early today (I’ve been miserably giving the whole waking-up thing the same performance I do for school classes) and was in the computer lab an hour before the class started with a belly full of eggs, bread, and a stray butterfly or two. And though I felt a little nervous, I was pretty calm because I don’t really get that nervous or shy in front of crowds. With about a half hour to go, 4 of the other volunteers entered as well (Amber, Andro, Kristi, and Eric) and began to mill about the lab. Theoretically they would be helping teach but in truth none of us knew what to expect. It was a little weird because as the students started to file in at about 5-10 minutes past 9 (in “Africa Time”, being somewhere at 9:00 means remembering that the appointment exists and making a commitment to leaving the house soon) I started to realize that everyone was expecting me to have a clue about what I was doing…yikes.
While I had indeed written the very manuals that the students would be using, and while I knew this information like the back of my hand, instilling a sense of trust while simultaneously engaging the students while also successfully filling their brains with knowledge was tricky business. I like to think that my teaching style was drawn from the multitude of teachers I’ve had the experience of watching and learning from as a result of moving to over 8 different states while attending over 10 different schools before the age of 18. Teaching is such a joy because you have the chance to really engage with people that are trying to learn!! It’s creative, it’s challenging, and it requires you (or at least dopes like me) to think quickly on your feet to adapt to unexpected questions (“Why can’t I hold the mouse like this?”) or bizarre problems (“My computer screen has a dragon on it that won’t go away”).
I thought it went extremely well and there were ultimately about 7 students in the morning section. The second best part after actually teaching the class and enjoying it was the recognition I got from all the other volunteers afterwards. Even some of the other people volunteering here that were merely in the room but not involved with the teaching congratulated me and gave me praise for how well I taught the class and carried myself. Andro has even started to call me Professor. It kind of reminded me of interviewing at Wake and UConn when interviewers from both schools asked me if I ever considered teaching/being a professor. I remember finding the idea intriguing at the time and even interesting that multiple interviewers had asked me the same thing. Of course now I still struggle with whether I even want to go to medical school vs. being a professor but that’s for another time.
Anyway, I think I’m still on a bit of a high from that great experience. My only concern is how fast we go through everything! Not that the students can’t keep up, because I make sure that everyone can understand everything as we go along. It’s only that we’ve nearly finished the entire Introduction to Computers portion in a single class when that manual took me about a week to make! I’m sure we’ll tear through the Windows basics as well and possibly even the Internet basics section too which hopefully means we’ll dig deeper into some of the Microsoft Office programs. Sweet.